Sending your child back to school after a summer or holiday break understandably comes with worry over their safety – especially if they walk or bike to school. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a pedestrian was killed in an accident every 85 minutes in 2019. Children are the most vulnerable types of pedestrians. It is important to remind them to practice good pedestrian and crosswalk safety. It is also important to go over these safety tips as a driver.
Obey Traffic Laws
The first tip is to learn and obey the traffic laws that apply to your situation. If your child is walking or biking to school, take the time to teach him or her the basics of pedestrian or cycling laws, such as when your child should yield the right-of-way to others. Children and other pedestrians should always wait to cross a road until it is clear and all surrounding traffic has stopped. Bicyclists must also obey all traffic signs, including stop signs and red lights. Following the rules can keep a child’s actions predictable to surrounding drivers and decrease the odds of a collision.
If you are someone who drives through a school zone or residential area often, always come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs. At a crosswalk or unmarked intersection, pedestrians have the right-of-way. At a marked intersection, pedestrians must wait until they have the signal to cross. Even if a pedestrian crosses illegally or jaywalks, however, you still have a responsibility as a driver to prevent an accident whenever possible.
Stop and Look Both Ways
One of the best tips is also the simplest: teach kids to stop and look both ways before entering a roadway. Children should always stop before crossing the road – even if they have the right-of-way – as many drivers ignore pedestrian rights and break traffic laws. Even in a school zone with flashing lights and traffic conductors, no child should run out into the road without stopping and checking both directions for oncoming cars.
As a driver, this rule also applies to you. Before proceeding across an intersection, come to a complete stop at the stop sign or traffic signal and check both ways for pedestrians and children running across the road. Keep in mind that a child may dart out into traffic even without the right-of-way, especially in a school zone. Drive at a safe speed and be prepared to stop at a moment’s notice.
Another critical pedestrian safety tip is to avoid distractions. If your children walk or bike to school, teach them to never be on their phones. Looking down at a cell phone could make a child miss an oncoming car or a change in roadway situation, such as a traffic light turning red. Listening to music while walking or biking is another form of distraction that could make a pedestrian miss hazards or oncoming cars.
As a driver, you should never be looking down at your phone while operating a motor vehicle. Using a handheld device to text or talk is against the law in Arizona. Driving while distracted by a cell phone, food or drink, the radio, passengers, or anything else could lead to a devastating collision with a pedestrian. The distracted driver will most likely be held liable for a related collision, even if a pedestrian did not have the right-of-way to cross.
Using these three top tips can reduce the risk of a pedestrian collision in your community. If you or your child gets into a pedestrian accident, however, contact a Glendale personal injury attorney as soon as possible for a free legal consultation. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights based on the situation.