Connecticut students are back to school, and drivers should be on high alert. Streets during the week will be more congested, school buses will be making frequent stops, and student pedestrians and cyclists of all ages will be out sharing the roads.
Traffic accidents involving students are devastating and preventable. Connecticut drivers and parents can help protect children this year by understanding the most common school-related road accidents and how to use safe driving behaviors to prevent them.
Back-To-School Traffic Accidents To Avoid
Back-to-school season can be a worrisome time for parents, but it’s not because of what’s going on in the classroom. According to the Transportation Research Board, at least 100 children are killed every year while walking to or from school. Another 25,000 school-aged children are injured, most during the afternoon hours when students are on their way home.
Most motor vehicle accidents involving students are caused when drivers are not prepared for the traffic changes back-to-school time can bring. These are the most common reasons for why school-related traffic accidents occur and what drivers should be prepared for as the year continues.
Across the country, tens of thousands of student walkers will be hitting the streets every week. These young pedestrians walk on sidewalks, in neighborhoods, on the side of country roads, and across crosswalk; sometimes they make their trips in complete darkness depending on the time of the year.
The National Safety Council reported that the majority of children who are killed in pedestrian accidents are between the ages of four to seven, students who are no older than second grade. Drivers who are not paying attention can easily strike a student on the side of the road or crossing the street, even when they are walking on a marked crosswalk.
School Bus Accidents
The bus stop has become one of the most dangerous places for kids during the school day. Several school districts nationwide have begun encouraging parents to put their children on the bus to avoid increased traffic on the road and in school parking lots. Unfortunately, distracted and negligent drivers are not stopping to allow these children to get on or off the bus safely.
Connecticut drivers are already receiving fines after only one week of school for refusing to stop for buses loading and unloading students. In New Haven last week, a home surveillance camera caught footage of a girl trying to board a bus when a pickup truck came speeding by. The truck made zero attempt to slow down, requiring the bus driver to honk the horn multiple time to encourage the girls to stop.
Children who bike to school can be in serious danger when cars do not share the roads. Most aggressive drivers are not patient enough to wait until it’s safe to pass a cyclist, regardless of their age. They see cyclists as nuisances and have been known to clip them with the side of their car or run them off the road while speeding by.
Teen Driving Accidents
Many high school-aged students will be driving their cars to school for the first time this year. These teen drivers are often unprepared for the increased road hazards back-to-school can bring, putting them at a higher risk for causing traffic accidents. Teen drivers are also more likely to become distracted behind the wheel, leading to preventable accidents involving fellow students.
Aggressive Driving Accidents
Aggressive drivers of all type increase when school is back in session. These drivers, who got used to the faster commutes in the summer, are known for pulling reckless maneuvers to avoid school congestion. Speeding, hard turning, hard braking, and hard acceleration are a few of the ways these drivers can put student pedestrians, cyclists, and teen drivers at risk.
Drivers Who Do Not Stop
Drivers who do not stop for buses are not the only ones putting students in harm’s way. The AAA reports that one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones. It does not take a significant amount of force from a car to cause an injury to a pedestrian or cyclist- cars will always win.
How To Keep Students Safe
Traffic accidents that take the lives of innocent Connecticut students are entirely preventable. To prevent these unnecessary tragedies, the AAA recommends these simple safety measurers to help drivers avoid school-related injuries and fatalities this year:
- Slow Down: Drivers who are speeding are less likely to be able to stop for pedestrians, cyclists, and buses, even if they are paying attention. Remember that most school zones are 25 mph. Going even 10 mph faster can turn an injury into a fatality in the case of an accident.
- Stop On Red: Do not roll through traffic lights, stop signs, crosswalks, or past buses. When you see a stop signal, come to a complete stop every time. If you see a bus turn on their flashers, do not try to beat the red stop sign. Stop to allow students to board or exit the bus safely, and do not proceed until the stop sign is retracted.
- Reduce Distractions: Cell phones, passengers, and behaviors such as eating, drinking, or putting on makeup can pull a driver’s attention away from the road long enough to take a life. It only takes looking away for two seconds to miss a student crossing the road. Reduce your distractions behind the wheel by saving all calls, texts, and personal habits for when you are safely parked.
- Don’t Ignore School Buses: Cars and trucks pose a major risk to students who are on riding or boarding/exiting school buses. Do not try to pass a school bus that has their stop sign up, or try to illegally pass.
- Share the Road: Do not try to pull risky maneuvers to get around student bikers and pedestrians. Whatever your reason is for rushing, it is not more important than the safety of others. Leave early to prevent the urge to speed or drive aggressively.
- Talk To Your Teen Drivers: Make sure your teen driver understands all of the risks involved with driving to school. Most fatal teen driving accidents occur after school has been released. Encourage your teen to drive safe, slow, and to stay alert to others on the road.
Connecticut Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys
We hope all Connecticut students have a safe and happy start to the school year. Connecticut drivers have a responsibility to keep our students safe on the road. If your child has been injured in a car accident due to the negligent acts of someone else, you may be eligible to receive compensation for any damages suffered. Contact our expert team of personal injury attorneys at Jacobs & Wallace for a free consultation to explore your options.