Students and families have been looking forward to the start of a new school year. As we embark on it, though, navigating all the new transportation logistics, it's important to be mindful of the serious risk of auto accidents in school zones. Many of these involve pedestrians - particularly children - who are especially vulnerable. According to the National Safety Council, more children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location.
Teenagers too are at high risk, as many are young, inexperienced and often fail to use the best judgment, including in congested traffic.
Real Life School Zone Accidents Have Hurt Children
Drivers and pedestrians face many risks 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 one hundred miles per hour in a school zone, where the speed limit was thirty-five. The officer has been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle.
High school traffic is another particularly dangerous problem 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.
Why Teen Drivers Are Especially Prone to School Zone Car Accidents
According to AAA, new teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal traffic accident than adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for American teenagers. In 2015, a total of 2,333 teens aged 16-19 were killed in motor vehicle accidents. That means that six teens died every day as a result of motor vehicle injuries. These studies corroborate decades of previous data which has established just how dangerous teen drivers can be. But what, specifically, are the factors that cause this danger? And how can parents address these factors in order to reduce their teen driver’s risk of having a car accident?
Passengers are a critical problem for teen drivers. The New York Times reports that adding one non-family passenger to a teen’s vehicle increased the odds of having an accident by forty-four percent. Interestingly, distraction was found to be highest when male teen drivers had male teen passengers in the car. Male drivers with female teen passengers drove more safely.
Distracted driving is another common cause of accidents - one to which teens are particularly susceptible. Forbes reports on a Governors Highway Safety Association study which found teens to be the largest age group of drivers who were distracted at the time of an accident. While distraction is dangerous for any driver, is particularly problematic for young, inexperienced drivers who are not always prepared to deal with obstacles in the road.
Help your teen driver stay safe in school zones by enforcing rules for safe driving behavior. If you or your child has been injured in a school zone accident, you have legal rights which must be protected. Contact Recht Law Offices today. We are an experienced firm serving car accident victims in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.