Minnesota drivers: watch out for children walking to and from school

Students who walk to and from school are at risk of pedestrian accidents. Drivers should be cautious and follow rules to avoid hitting children.

Now that fall has arrived and school has started, drivers in Minnesota and across the country will need to be aware that child pedestrians can be near during their morning and afternoon commute. Many children who walk to and from school are injured in traffic, including by the drivers of school buses.

Last May in Saint Paul, a 15-year-old boy was seriously injured as he was in the crosswalk. A school bus driver, who was making a left turn, did not see the teenager in the street and struck him, resulting in critical injuries. This incident showed how dangerous it can be for children if a driver was inattentive or simply did not see a child crossing the street. In fact, the area immediately surrounding a school bus is especially dangerous for children, according to the National Safety Council. It can be difficult for bus drivers to see a nearby student because of the size of the vehicle and location of blind spots.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 9 percent of children who ride a car or bus to school do not walk because of the risk of being hit by cars. This fear is not unfounded - more children are struck near their schools than anywhere else. Younger children in particular are more at risk of being hit by school buses or by vehicles that are passing a school bus. This may be due in part to the small size of younger children, as well as the fact that they may not fully understand traffic rules and can take risks, such as darting out into the street unexpectedly.

Keeping the roads safer for everyone

Drivers are largely responsible for the safety of pedestrians walking near traffic. They should always be aware of their surroundings and observe the following driving habits at all times:

  • Obey reduced speed limit rules in school zones.
  • Never pass a school bus that is stopped with its lights flashing and safety arm extended.
  • Allow crossing guards and children to cross the street.
  • Do not stop in the crosswalk or edge out into an intersection when making a turn, which may make it more dangerous for children to cross the street.
  • Always give children the right of way, regardless of whether they were in a crosswalk or crossing with or against a crossing light.

It is also advisable to look for children in any area where they are likely to be walking, in addition to school zones. These include playgrounds, parks, residential areas, driveways and parking lots.

Children face severe injuries when confronted by a multi-ton vehicle. Families who were impacted in a pedestrian accident may be able to pursue compensation by speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney in Woodbury.