Be aware of children walking to school, National Safety Council warns

Children are most often hit by cars near schools. This is why the National Safety Council focuses on back-to-school safety in August.

During the month of August, drivers in Phoenix should start getting used to the idea that school will be starting soon. That is the plan with the National Safety Council's Back to School Safety Month campaign this month. Children may be walking and playing near traffic at any time of the year, but they tend to be out earlier in the day, as well as in the late afternoon, once school is back in session.

No bad time to be aware of pedestrians

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 141 people were killed in Arizona in 2014 by being struck by vehicles. A significant number of these would have been children, and many may have occurred near a school. In fact, school zones are the most common place for children to be involved in pedestrian accidents, more than anywhere else. This is the top reason for the National Safety Council to bring awareness to child pedestrian dangers in August.

Last March in Tempe, according to NBC4 News, an 8-year-old boy was hit by a car after he exited his school bus and began crossing the street. The driver of the car sped away from the scene. Fortunately, the boy was not seriously injured. Children are commonly hit by cars as they begin crossing the street after leaving their school buses. In some cases, they are hit by the bus. Drivers illegally attempting to pass a bus that is stopped to let children cross are a major source of school-related pedestrian crashes.

Children are known for taking risks and not understanding or obeying safety rules, and walking near traffic is no exception. Sadly, many can be involved in injurious or fatal accidents because of this. Regardless of age, children may dart unexpectedly into the street or attempt to cross at a crosswalk against the light. They might engage in dangerous horseplay near traffic, or simply fail to recognize how close or fast an approaching car is.

Prevention tips for drivers

However, much of the responsibility falls to drivers to keep children safe, and not to children themselves. Drivers often fail to notice a child starting to cross the street as they are preparing to make a turn or trying to beat the light. The following rules should be observed at all times when drivers are in a school zone or other area where children are likely to be:

  • Always stop for buses that are admitting or letting children off.
  • Do not attempt to pass a stopped school bus or car that is waiting for children to cross the street.
  • Do not stop in a crosswalk, which may block children trying to cross.
  • Yield for crossing guards helping children across the street.
  • Watch out for children in neighborhoods and near parks and playgrounds, in addition to school areas.

It is to be hoped that the safety topic during August will raise awareness among drivers and parents alike, and prevent accidents. If you or your child is injured in a pedestrian accident, an experienced personal injury attorney in Phoenix may be able to advise you on whether you have a case.