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Eye-opening study finds abundant dangers in school zones

Now that we are a few months into the school year, kids and parents alike are starting to become accustomed to their new routine, including homework, extracurriculars and, of course, start times and dismissal times.

Regardless of the chosen method of getting to and from school, there's a very good chance that kids will at some point have to cross a street, a parking lot or a dedicated one-way drop-off/pick-up lane. In light of this reality, both students and parents alike will likely want to take note of some rather sobering figures on pedestrian accidents from the child advocacy organization Safe Kids Worldwide.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide:     

  • 284 teens ranging in age from 12 to 19 were killed in pedestrian accidents in the U.S. in 2015, which averaged out to roughly five fatalities per week and a 13 percent increase from 2013.
  • Teens ranging in age from 15 to 19 made up roughly 50 percent of these pedestrian fatalities even though they comprised only 26 percent of the total population of children between the ages of 0 to 19 years old.  

In light of these staggering figures, Safe Kids Worldwide set out in the spring of 2016 to study how acute this problem was in school zones and the degree to which distraction was potentially playing a role.

As part of these efforts, researchers observed the street crossing behaviors of over 39,000 middle school and high school students walking to and from their places of learning, as well as 56,000 drivers dropping off or picking up children.

After crunching the numbers, they made another set of rather sobering findings:

  • 17 percent of middle school students and 27 percent of high school students were observed walking distracted with the primary distractions being headphones (44 percent), texting (31 percent), talking on a smartphone (18 percent) or a combination all three (7 percent)
  • 10 percent of drivers were distracted by mobile devices during drop-offs/pick-ups and roughly 33 percent engaged in other unsafe conduct (stopping in crosswalks, double parking, etc.)
  • 60 percent of school zones did not have speed limits of 20 miles-per-hour or less, and 30 percent were missing marked crosswalks

Given these startling discoveries, Safe Kids Worldwide offered some common-sense solutions for kids, parents and schools, including parent-child talks about the dangers of distracted walking, increased public education efforts, installation of the necessary traffic safety mechanisms, and implementation of drop-off and pick-up policies by schools.

Here's hoping that these suggestions are taken seriously by all parties.

Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you've been seriously injured in a car accident or lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident caused by the negligence of another motorist.

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