Every morning, millions of children make their way to schools across the country by bus, in cars, by walking or on bicycles. The good news is that pedestrian fatalities involving children have been decreasing. The bad news is that children are most at risk when they are in an area specifically designed for their safety: the school zone.
School zones are specifically designated areas of a roadway near a school and crosswalk. Speed limits in a school zone are lowered during school hours. Signs tell motorists that they are entering a school zone and advise them to use caution as well as reduce speed. Many municipalities enhance fines for speeding in a school zone when the lowered speed limit is in effect.
About 100 children are killed each year while walking to or from school. Around 25,000 are injured. Some incidents even are the result of school bus accidents in school zones, so the question is why school zones are not protecting children from motorists.
The proliferation of cell phones and drivers either talking or texting on them are major causes of motor vehicle accidents. A 2003 Harvard study found that cell phone use was a factor in 636,000 car crashes and 2,600 deaths. Another study by Safe Kids noted that out of 41,426 drivers observed in sites across the country, 7,000 were distracted by either use of a cell phone, eating, reaching into the back seat, or some other activity not associated with driving.
A motor vehicle traveling at 20 miles per hour still needs about 23 feet to come to a complete stop, provided that the motorist has perceived the danger and has applied the brakes. To ensure the safety of pedestrians, the motorist needs to avoid distractions and stay aware and mindful.
To alert distracted motorists, municipalities use traffic calming devices such as flashing crosswalks activated by pedestrians pushing a button. Some utilize a split median, a road with two center island narrowing located on both sides of an intersection. These measures as well as a concerted campaign to reduce distracted driving and to impose stricter penalties on drivers are necessary to solve the problem of negligent drivers and school zones.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a school bus accident or any other type of motor vehicle accident, call 212-986-2022 or contact us online to discuss your case.