Students and parents consumed with the back-to-school ritual often see transportation as an afterthought. However, it really should be one of the foremost concerns, as the return of buses and the influx of young, inexperienced drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists concentrated in a single area raises the risk of a serious crash in Mobile.
In fact, the National Safety Council, more children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location. The school zone speed signs are not merely a suggestion. They are in place for a reason, and violators will be ticketed. Careless drivers who cause crashes in school zones may be subject not only to fines and other penalties, they may find themselves listed as a defendant in an Alabama personal injury lawsuit.
Real Life School Zone Accidents Have Hurt Children Across the South
There are many risks faced by drivers and pedestrians in school zones. Some are expected, such as heavy bus traffic and child pedestrians. Other hazards can be bizarre and unforeseeable. Such was the case for one Charlotte pedestrian who was struck and killed in a school zone. According to WSOC, the pedestrian was struck by a police cruiser responding to a call. The officer, only twenty-four years old, was travelling at around 100 miles-per-hour in a school zone, where the speed limit was 35 mph. The officer has been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle.
High school traffic is another particularly dangerous problem in near school zones. Not only are high school parking lots filled with inexperienced teen drivers, but these young drivers are concentrated in large numbers. One such accident occurred at Nease High School in St. Johns County, Florida. Two sisters were involved in a serious accident while leaving the school parking lot. News 4 reports that they have to be extricated from their vehicle by fire department crews, after which they were airlifted to trauma centers.
Children can be particularly vulnerable in school zones when they do not use safe pedestrian habits. This is what caused the death of a twelve-year-old boy in Jacksonville. According to First Coast News, the boy was crossing the street near his school, but he was not in a crosswalk at the time of his death. There was a crosswalk with a crossing guard further down the road.
School districts and municipalities may be held liable in some instances where students weren't properly supervised to-and-from buses or off school property, or where school speed zones are not properly maintained.
How Students, Parents, Teachers, and School Staff Can Stay Safe in School Zones
- Be prepared to react to sudden movements from both other vehicles and children entering or exiting the school. Young children, especially, are impulsive, and do not always follow proper safety protocol near schools. Allow yourself enough time and space to react to any unexpected obstacles.
- Do not make impulsive or unexpected movements. In a crowded parking lot, other drivers will often have no space nor time to react to your movements. Signal movements well in advance, and execute movements slowly to ensure your path is, indeed, clear.
- Familiarize yourself with drop off and pickup procedures at your child’s school before the school year starts. Heavy traffic and impulsive children can make it difficult to know where to go once school is in session.
- Do not double park or otherwise block visibility. In crowded conditions, it is especially important that drivers be able to around other vehicles.
- Teach your child to be particularly cautious in and around their high school. High schools have high concentrations of young, inexperienced drivers. Teen drivers should be prepared to respond to erratic movements, pedestrians, heavy traffic, and other hazards they will face at their school.
If you or your child has been injured in a school zone, contact a Mobile, Alabama auto accident attorney as soon as possible. Your family has legal rights which must be protected.