Oklahoma News 9 issued a warning for drivers recently. AAA urged drivers to be alert to the fact children are now back in school in Oklahoma City's public schools. Oklahoma City's school district is the largest school district in the state, so when it returns to school, this means there will be substantial numbers of children out on the roads.
Many children walk to school or ride their bicycles, while others take the bus. Kids who are embarking or disembarking from the bus could be at risk of being hit. Children walking and riding their bicycles to school are also in danger from pedestrian accidents.
AAA alerted drivers about the highest risk times for pedestrian accidents during back to school season. Around a third of fatal pedestrian accidents involving children occur during the hours of 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM when kids are commuting home from school. Since around 46,000 school kids attend the Oklahoma City district and many of these children will now be walking home during these hours, drivers need to be especially vigilant.
Drivers are urged to obey school zone speed limits in order to try to reduce the risk to children. The faster a vehicle is going, the more likely it is the car will seriously hurt or kill a pedestrian if there is a collision. Drivers also should eliminate possible distractions in their cars, should carefully monitor blind spots, and should be extra cautious when they are backing up their vehicles.
Although kids who walk or bike ride to school face the greatest pedestrian accident risks, there is also a danger when children get off or on buses. Drivers must make sure they obey the law and stop when a bus has its lights flashing and its stop arm extended. A driver who fails to stop for a school bus could face a substantial fine, points on his driving record, and other consequences. If a driver strikes a child, either when walking or when getting off or on the bus, the driver should be held accountable for injuries the child suffers.
Parents should also talk with their children about back-to-school walking safety tips. Kids need to be reminded to stay on sidewalks whenever possible, to look both ways before crossing the street, and only to go across the road in designated crossing areas. Kids should be told never to assume a car will stop, and never to walk out into the road from between two parked cars or at any area where drivers are not expecting them to be walking.
Hopefully, if kids and drivers both follow best practices for safety during this season when young people are going back to school, kids can arrive to class and get home after school without incident and the risk of accidents can be reduced.