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Strategies for Avoiding Traffic Accidents as Children Head Back to School


Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Aug 15, 2017 in Car Accidents

kids walking to schoolTomorrow is the first day of classes for public school students in South Bend. While this is an exciting time for students and parents, it can also be dangerous as there will be a significant increase in car, pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

The increase in traffic in the mornings and afternoons during the school year increases the risk of various types of traffic accidents. That is why our attorneys have compiled a list of back to school safety tips that could help reduce the risk of an accident.  

If you or your child suffers an injury in a traffic accident this school year, contact our accomplished auto accident lawyers in South Bend for a free legal consultation. We may be able to recover compensation for physical, financial and emotional damages.

Safe Driving Tips

There are several ways to reduce the risk of a car accident when you are traveling in a school zone in the mornings and afternoons:

  • Always watch for children. This is not only important in school zones, but also in residential areas and near playgrounds or parks. Children have a tendency to not watch for cars and put themselves in danger by entering roadways.
  • Be extra cautious around young drivers who are transporting themselves to school. These drivers are inexperienced and more prone to dangerous behaviors like distracted driving.
  • Always come to a complete stop at crosswalks, even if a crossing guard or school patrol officer is not there holding up a stop sign.
  • Always obey the reduced speed limit. Not only is following the speed limit the law, it also gives you more time to react to what is in front of you, which can help prevent a car accident. This is particularly important in school zones as pedestrians and bicyclists could be in the road.
  • Watch for pedestrians whenever entering a school parking lot or pick-up/drop-off area.
  • Comply with all rules your child's school has for picking up or dropping off kids, including picking up and dropping kids off in the designated area.
  • Never pass a vehicle that has stopped for pedestrians, as you could hit one of them when attempting to pass.
  • Never block the crosswalk when stopping at a red light or waiting to turn. This forces pedestrians to go around you, which may put them in the path of moving traffic.
  • Never pick up or drop off children across the street from the school.

Driving Around School Buses

The start of the school year also means there will be a lot more school buses on the road. This means drivers need to be cautious when a school bus stops to load or unload children.

In fact, one of the most common types of school bus accidents is when a child is hit by a car that is illegally passing a bus as it loads or unloads children.

According to state law, it is illegal to pass a stopped bus unless you are on the other side of a road divided by a physical barrier or unimproved median.

You also need to watch for pedestrians around bus stops, such as parents who are making sure their children get on or off the bus safely.

Pedestrian Safety Strategies

If your child's school is close enough to home, he or she may walk to and from it instead of getting on a bus or having you drive him or her there. Unfortunately, this is becoming increasingly dangerous, as pedestrian accidents in the U.S. are on the rise.

If your child will be walking to school, there are several things you can do to help reduce the risk of an accident:

  • Do a practice run with your child so he or she will be familiar with the route he or she will take.
  • Instruct your child to stick to the route you practiced and avoid shortcuts, including traveling through neighbors' yards, railroad tracks or other potential hazards.
  • If you are able to do so, accompany your child to and from school. If not, have an older sibling or a trusted adult accompany them.
  • Educate your child about the meaning of different signs and traffic signals, including signals from crossing guards. This way your child will know when it is safe to cross the street.
  • Have your child practice looking left and right before crossing a street to spot approaching vehicles.
  • Tell your child to always watch for potential hazards and vehicles that may pass in front of them.
  • Have your child wear bright, reflective clothing or a jacket so he or she is visible to drivers.

Bike Safety Tips

Another method of transportation to school is via bicycle. Unfortunately, bicyclists face the same safety threats pedestrians and other drivers face.

If you are driving in a school zone, you can reduce the risk of an accident with a bicyclist by following these safety tips:

  • Whenever passing a bicyclist, leave three feet between your car and the rider.
  • If you are turning left and see a bicyclist approaching, wait for the rider to pass before proceeding. This is extremely important as the most common type of bicycle accident is a car turning left in front of the bicyclist.
  • Check your side mirrors before you open your car door as a bicyclist could be approaching.
  • Keep an eye out for bicyclists who turn in front of you without looking or signaling.

If your child is taking a bicycle to school, the following tips can help prevent an accident:

  • Take a bike ride with your child on the route he or she will take to school before the school year starts. This way you can make sure the route is safe and your child is familiar with it.
  • Tell your child to take the same route to school each day and avoid shortcuts.
  • Instruct your child to always be alert when riding and not to use headphones or talk on a cellphone.
  • Tell your child to always wear a helmet when riding his or her bike.
  • Teach your child of the importance of coming to a complete stop at intersections and before making turns.
  • Have your child wear reflective clothing or a reflective backpack to ensure he or she is visible to drivers.
  • Regularly inspect your child's bike to ensure the brakes work properly.

Schedule a Free Legal Consultation with Our Attorneys

Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee your child will not be involved in an accident when he or she goes to or comes home from school.

If an accident occurs and you think it was caused by another person's negligence, contact our personal injury attorneys for a free, no obligation legal consultation. We can review your situation and determine all of your legal options.

If you have a viable claim and decide to proceed, we will conduct a thorough investigation to try to build a strong case. We are committed to pursuing all of the compensation you deserve.

We take cases on contingency, so we do not get paid unless our clients receive compensation for the damages they have suffered.

Contact Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak today.