The long summer vacation is over, and the new school year has arrived. However, it also brings the dangers of children traveling to and from schools. Schools in the central Oklahoma school district are all reopening at different dates throughout August, with the public schools in Oklahoma City being the first ones to start the new year. Children of all ages are at risk -- from the youngest pedestrians to those traveling by bicycle and the seniors who drive automobiles.
Although all road users must comply with safety rules, AAA Oklahoma urged vehicle operators to take extra care and be vigilant for students on foot and on bicycles. Officials say about one in every three fatal accidents involving child pedestrians happen between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
How can you help keep children safe on the roads?
According to an AAA spokesperson, statistics show an alarming increase in pedestrian deaths of children from 6 to 18 years old, specifically with regard to fatalities in Oklahoma in 2014 and 2015. Here are seven tips for you and other drivers that might help to keep school children safe on their way to school and home:
- Reduce speed -- There is a reason for lower speed limits in school zones. Authorities explain that hitting a child with an automobile traveling at 35 mph has a 66 percent higher chance of causing death than when it occurs at 25 mph.
- Avoid distractions -- Beware of children running into the road from between or behind parked cars or at bus stops. Averting your eyes for a couple of seconds to check your phone may could cause a child's death.
- Back up with care -- Keep your vehicle's blind spots in mind when you back up. Always do it slowly, and remember, even if you teach your children not to play around parked cars, other parents may not.
- Be extra cautious around buses -- Never rush around a stationary school bus. Chances of a child suddenly emerging from behind it are significant. Regardless of the direction of your approach, the law requires you to brake for a stopped bus.
- Discuss the danger with your teen driver -- Authorities say the primary cause of teen deaths nationwide is car accidents of which one in four occurs after school hours from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Gather evidence of this to show to your teenager and create safety awareness.
- Do not ignore stop signs -- According to researchers, only two-thirds of drivers come to a full stop at stop signs in or around school zones -- the rest roll through them. Stop completely and look out for children in crosswalks and sidewalks. They may cross at any time, so expect the unexpected.
- Keep a lookout for bicycles -- Children riding bicycles can be unpredictable -- especially the very young ones who may still be inexperienced and unsteady. Reduce speed and allow the required passing distance. If your children use bicycles to get to and from school, make sure they wear properly fitted helmets.
Remember, if your child suffers injuries in a crash that results from another person's negligence, you don't have to go through the legal process alone. With proper evidence of negligence and a documented list of financial losses and emotional damages, you can file a civil lawsuit in an Oklahoma civil court.
For more on that, please see our car accident overview.