- About 100 children in the United States are killed every year while traveling to or from school, and 25,000 others sustain serious injuries as a result of school zone crashes, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
- Congested intersections and crosswalks, impaired drivers, inattentive and distracted drivers, as well as motorists who speed or drive too close to bicyclists or pedestrian areas are some of the leading causes behind school year car and truck accidents.
- As many as 17,000 children are injured or fatally struck when getting on or off a school bus or standing near a bus stop.
- Practicing the right driving decisions such as slowing down, being on the lookout for busses, and never driving distracted especially in school zones and at crosswalks remains the responsibility of all drivers.
10 Ways You Can Keep Children Car Accident Free This School Year
A new school year means more buses, cars, and bicycles on Michigan roadways. Parking lots, bus stop areas, city roads, intersections, and school zones are soon to become increasingly congested with busses and motor vehicles of all sizes, rushed parents on their way to work, inexperienced teen drivers, bicyclists, and wandering, often-distracted young pedestrians.
This is a necessary time to review these ten back-to-school driver reminders and help keep everyone accident and injury-free this year.
- Talk to Your Teen Driver
Inexperience, risk-taking behavior, and lack of maturity are all proven triggers that increase crash and injury risks for young drivers. Because of these factors, teen drivers are more likely to miss road hazards, speed while driving, and not wear their seatbelts. Parents can play one of the most critical roles in keeping everyone, including their teen, safe on the road and in school parking lots. Give new drivers practice, be a good role model, and remind them often that safe driving skills take time to develop.
- Ask About the School’s Traffic Safety Plan
A school zone safe driving plan should be in place for drivers in charge of dropping off and picking children up from school, but these rules are only useful when known and followed. Seek out the school’s traffic safety plan that is likely posted on a school website or in a front office. If your child’s school does not have a school zone safe driving policy in place, work with them to develop and distribute one.
- Slow Down
Michigan drivers need to ease up on their fast driving as the state has already ranked high for risky driving and driving too fast. Speed limits in school zones tend to be five to 10 miles per hour below the regularly posted speed so be prepared to slow down.
- Follow School Zone Signage, Obey Crossing Guards
New traffic signage and extra road cautions tend to pop up during school hours, especially at guided crosswalks or areas where drivers may not be used to stopping. Remember, in a school zone when flashers are blinking, or a crossing guard is guiding traffic, stop completely and yield to the young pedestrians and bicyclists on their way to school.
- Watch out for Young Bike Riders and Bus Stops
Some Michigan communities have developed a bad reputation for being home to far too many tragic bike and pedestrian accidents involving children hit by drivers who made poor decisions. Drivers should be on the lookout for kids on bicycles and beware of all blind spots. When making a turn, look in all directions to see around the sides of the windshield.
If you live in an area like Detroit, where there are a lot of bus stops mixed into heavily trafficked areas, drive cautiously. Be more alert to the possibility of child pedestrians walking into the road or playing near it while waiting.
- Swap Out Your Summer Driving Route
You might need to adjust the daily commute you became accustomed to over the slow summer months. By taking a different, slightly longer path, you could reduce your risk of an accident with a child crossing the road or with other vehicles caught up in school zone congestion.
- Never Drive While Impaired
Although we shouldn’t have to say it, we will. Those who choose to drive drunk or impaired by drugs and medications possess poor decision-making skills and slower reaction times, making them more likely to cause a fatal accident.
- Put Your Phone Away
Distracted driving has become a crisis on all roadways, and driver inattention is a leading cause of school zone crashes. Safety officials at AAA say nearly 95 percent of Michiganders gripe that texting while driving is their number one concern, yet most also admit to being guilty of it. Put the phone away while driving and pay attention to the young children who are sharing roads, parking lots, and driveways with you.
Sending a text to a friend, checking a weather app, posting your dog’s photo to Instagram, or reading a work email is not worth taking a child’s life.
- Makes Your Kids Wear a Bike Helmet
In 2018, the number of cyclists killed in Michigan nearly doubled, and in Grand Rapids the fatal bike crash ratio is almost three times higher than the state average. In these fatalities, the most serious injuries were to the head of riders who were not wearing a helmet. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent, and the odds of head, face, or neck injury by 33 percent.
The same busy intersections, inattentive and distracted drivers, as well as motorists who speed or drive too close to bicyclists that we see in school zones are also the leading causes behind these types of crashes. If your child is riding their bicycle to and from school, make sure they are wearing a helmet that fits properly and is the right size for their age.
- Get Familiar with Michigan School Bus Safety Laws
Michigan State Police report the majority of bus-related deaths and injuries involve school-age children who are exiting to cross traffic. These injuries are often critical if not fatal.
Drivers should be prepared to stop when a slowing school bus has its overhead yellow lights flashing and stay at least 20 feet away when red lights are flashing unless driving in the opposite direction on a divided highway. And as a reminder, in Michigan, school buses should be treated like traffic signals.
- When overhead lights are flashing yellow: Prepare to STOP!
- When overhead lights are flashing red: STOP!
- When hazard warning lights are flashing: Proceed with CAUTION.
- Remind your child to stay in sight of the bus driver, don’t hurry off the bus, and to check traffic first.
As usual, we know it is beneficial when our blog readers share these tips within their communities. The attorneys from our personal injury and motor vehicle accident team at The Lee Steinberg Law Firm thank you for that and wish all Michigan kids a safe and enjoyable school year.
School Zone Accident Injury Lawyers
If you or your child has been injured in a school zone accident, the personal injury and accident attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm are ready to use our decades of experience to help your family move forward. Not only can a personal injury lawsuit help ease financial burdens on your family, but it can help create change in school zones that pose serious dangers to other Michigan kids.
Contact us today for a free consultation about your potential case or call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE.
Also read: A Review of Michigan School Bus Safety Laws