The 2017-2018 school year is about to begin in Orange County. Classes start August 14th for schools in the Santa Ana Unified School District. Capistrano Unified begins August 22nd, and Garden Grove Unified begins August 30th. It will be a busy couple of weeks, to be sure, and not just for students and their parents. Everyone who drives on the city streets of our communities will encounter children walking, biking, and riding buses. Motorists will need to take notice and drive with extra caution during this time. Unfortunately, not all of them will, and children are the ones most likely to pay the price.
Neale & Fhima represents victims of school zone traffic accidents in Orange County. Our attorneys have a zero-tolerance policy for careless drivers who put children in danger. If you would like to know more about our services, please contact us now.
Young Pedestrians Need Drivers to be Vigilant
Hundreds of children are killed in car accidents every year in the United States. A significant percentage of them are pedestrians. Consider the following data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the year 2015:
|Age group (years)||Number killed in vehicle crashes||Number who were pedestrians||Percentage who were pedestrians|
|14 or younger||1,132||233||21%|
|15 to 29||10,253||1,041||10%|
|30 to 44||7,406||1,098||15%|
|45 to 59||7,894||1,522||19%|
|60 to 74||5,264||950||18%|
|75 or older||3,050||482||16%|
Not only are children at greater risk of getting hurt compared to older pedestrians, but walking to school is becoming more popular. Last year the National Center for Safe Routes to School published a survey of more than 700,000 parents at 6,500 schools. The survey found that over a recent seven-year period:
- In the morning, the number of children walking to school increased from 11.9 percent to 15.2 percent.
- In the afternoon, the number of children walking from school increased from 15.2 percent to 18.4 percent.
Additional Road Hazards During Back-to-School
Young pedestrians are not the only road hazard to appear when school begins. Here are three more dangers to watch for this month, as well as some tips for avoiding an accident:
1. School Buses
Approaching a school bus is a lot like approaching one of Orange County’s most dangerous intersections – drivers must be ready for anything. Children may run toward or away from the bus. They may cross the street without looking. The bus itself may start, stop, or slow down unexpectedly. Other drivers are also a risk, as they may become impatient and try to pass the bus illegally.
- Tip: If your regular driving routine takes you along the same path as a school bus, find an alternate route or allow extra time to reach your destination.
- Tip: Never pass a school bus from behind while children are getting on or off.
- Tip: Stop for a bus when its red lights flash, regardless of your direction of travel, and leave plenty of space for children to cross the street in front of you.
California Highway Patrol records show 965 vehicle/bicycle collisions in Orange County in 2016. Of these, 881 involved physical injuries and eight were fatal. Drivers should always be on the lookout for bicyclists – a challenge that is even more difficult near schools, where the bicycles and riders are smaller in size.
- Tip: Be careful turning right. A child may be riding a bicycle to your right side (on the shoulder or sidewalk), intending to go straight.
3. Teen Drivers
Southern California is home to some of the largest public high schools in the nation. As these students get behind the wheel of a car for the first time, their lack of experience can be dangerous. Smartphones are not helping. Our law firm often represents victims hurt in distracted driving accidents caused by young drivers.
- Tip: Speak to your teen about the dangers of using a smartphone while driving, driving while intoxicated, and other high-risk behaviors.
- Tip: Use defensive driving techniques, like creating a space cushion, while traveling near high schools or places where teen drivers are present.
School-Zone Accident Lawyers in Southern California
Neale & Fhima is a full-service personal injury law firm with offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. If you need legal advice about an accident this back-to-school season, call (888) 680-8551 or submit the form below.