Whenever you see the yellow diamond-shaped sign with two black figures crossing a road, you know you’ve entered a school zone. Typically the speed limit drops, and drivers need to be extra cautious to avoid hitting any parents and children when school is in session.
Whether or not school zones in Sacramento are safe depends almost exclusively on the drivers and the attention to the road. Most research concludes that each year roughly 100 children are killed on their way to or from school, and another 25,000 are injured in accidents around school zones.
Of course, children should be taught how to stop, look and listen when crossing the street, and many school districts employ crossing guards to get children safely across the street. However, neither of those factors excuse a negligent, distracted driver who is speeding through a school zone.
In a recent study that looked at the effectiveness of school zones, researchers looked at over 2,000 accidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians and concluded that the most serious collisions happened in mid-block areas, places where no crosswalk or intersection was located. School zones also have higher rates of fatal collisions, but these rates dip as you get farther and farther away from the school zone.
So what can you do to make school zones safer? Follow these tips and school zones will be safer for everyone.
As a driver
If you’re going through a school zone on your way to work or dropping off your own children, there are a few things you should be aware of.
- California law asks drivers to give the right-of-way to pedestrians when they’re crossing at a legal crosswalk.
- Speeding through a school zone is highly dangerous and can get you in a lot of trouble.
As you’re approaching a school zone, do your best to remove all distractions from your view and be sure to be extra cautious. Not all children know where to cross the street, and there are some that might try to cut across at another point. If you’re not aware of them, you might hit them.
Take extra precaution and drive a little slower than the speed limit just to be on the safe side. If you were to hit a child while speeding, drive while texting or fail to let the pedestrian have the right-of-way, you might be sued for negligence and be held responsible for damages, which could include hospitals bills and even wrongful death.
As a parent
While there’s no excuse for speeding through a school zone, parents are obligated to teach their children how to safely cross the street.
What to explain:
- Why it’s so important to cross the street at crosswalks or intersections
- How to stop, look and listen
- The importance of looking both ways
It might be harder to make children comprehend how serious auto accidents can be, but regardless, parents should be talking to their children about road safety.
If your child has been hit, he or she is entitled to damages and pain and suffering just as any adult would be. In this case, the child will be appointed a representative, usually the parent, to act on his or her behalf when negotiating a settlement. Most of the time, damages awarded to a child go into a trust, intended for educational purposes, but some funds can also go to pay for medical bills.
You as a parent can also sue for any medical bills, lost wages or potentially pain and suffering, depending on the nature of the accident. Know your rights and next time, drive a little slower through a school zone.