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Common School Zone Injury and Accident Statistics

Many students return to school this month, making it more critical than ever for students and drivers to be aware of school zones as traffic increases when children come and go from school. While school zones are meant to alert drivers of the presence of children coming and going to schools nearby, the unfortunate reality is that injuries can still occur on the part of distracted drivers or unsafe pedestrian behaviors.

At Greathouse Trial Law, we understand that ensuring the safety of children in school zones is paramount to parents, educators and drivers. Understanding the reasons school zone accidents and injuries occur—as well as how to prevent them—can help create safer conditions for children as they come and go from school this year.

Greathouse Trial Law School Bus Emergency Door

After-school hours tend to yield more injuries and fatalities in school zones, with nearly 1 in 4 child pedestrian fatalities occurring between 3 PM and 7 PM

School Zone Injury Statistics

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are 5 teen pedestrian deaths in the US each week; in addition, there has been a 13 percent increase in the pedestrian death rate for 12-19 year olds since 2013.
  • In 2015, while 15-19 year old teens made up 26 percent of all children under the age of 19, they constituted nearly 50 percent of pedestrian fatalities that year.
  • The NHTSA observed approximately 39,000 students in school zones in 2016 and found that:
    • Nearly 1 in 4 high school students and 1 in 6 middle school students were observed to be distracted walkers.
      • 44 percent were wearing headphones; 31 percent were texting; 18 percent were talking on the phone, and 7 percent were performing a combination of the three.
    • Unsafe street crossing (crossing at a point other than a designated crosswalk, not observing oncoming traffic, etc.) was observed in nearly 80 percent of students.
  • Only about 4 out of 10 school zones had speed limits of 20 miles per hours posted.
  • Marked crosswalks are missing in approximately 3 out of 10 school zones.
  • For drivers, distracted driving (or otherwise unsafe driving practices) were observed in approximately 1 in 3 drivers.
    • This includes texting while driving, double parking, or stopping in the middle of a crosswalk while dropping off/picking up students.
  • After-school hours tend to yield more injuries and fatalities in school zones, with nearly 1 in 4 child pedestrian fatalities occurring between 3 PM and 7 PM.

Preventing School Zone Injuries and Accidents

While it may seem that some school zones are inherently unsafe for children coming and going from school, most—if not all—of these injuries and accidents can be prevented entirely through the combined due diligence of children, teens and drivers alike. Some solutions include:

  • Slowing down. While only some school zones will have reduced speed limit signs posted, slowing down in a known school zone is a general rule of thumb and a way to guarantee safety. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 20-25 miles per hour is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 30-35 miles per hour.
  • Crossing only at designated crosswalks. In all 50 states, drivers must stop at intersections with stop signs or traffic signals, and also yield to crossing guards escorting pedestrians across the road. Whenever possible, ensure that your children or teens cross only at a designated crosswalk—preferably one with either a stop sign, traffic signal or crossing guard present.
  • Educating about the dangers of distraction. Whether your child or teen is a pedestrian or a driver, ensure that they are aware of the importance of paying attention to their surroundings and not crossing the street while listening to music, sending a text message, or otherwise not paying attention to road conditions. The National Safety Council (NSC) advises a policy of “Head Up, Phone Down” anytime a road must be crossed—even if crossing at a designated crosswalk—to maximize safety in school zones.
  • Not Texting and Driving. Parents must also do their part to ensure safety in school zones, and most text messages can wait until you have finished driving. These distractions—and any that take your focus off of the road in front of you—can lessen your reaction time and double your risk of crashing.
  • Expecting the Unexpected. Children can be unpredictable, and have a tendency to run while playing. As a driver, ensure that you are always focused on the road while driving through a school zone and be prepared to stop at a moment’s notice if a child runs out onto the road unexpectedly.
Greathouse Trial Law School Zone Accidents

Beware of unpredictable student pedestrians

Who is Responsible When School Zone Injuries Occur?

The responsibility for school zone injuries, as with most personal injury cases in Georgia, is calculated based on the liability of both the injured and responsible parties. In Georgia, so long as the plaintiff (the injured party) is found to be less than 50 percent liable for an accident, they are eligible to recover damages for the injuries they sustained.

However, adults are generally held to a higher standard than children in terms of understanding and following the rules of the road, meaning that an adult who injures a child in a school zone accident will usually be more responsible than the child. In addition, children are usually unable to represent themselves in court unless a parent files a claim on their behalf.

At Greathouse Trial Law, we know how important your children can be to you—and that you’ll stop at nothing to protect them from harm. Any injuries stemming from negligence—that is, injuries resulting from the inattentiveness or irresponsibility—of a driver can be legally held against them in a personal injury claim filed by injured child’s parent.

If your child or teen has been injured in a school zone, you may be entitled to receive compensation on your child’s behalf. Contact us to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case today.

Riah Greathouse, Esq.

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