While it would seem as though school zones would actually be safer areas for pedestrians and bicyclists – and they should be – that is not always the case. In fact, the high volume of cars in designated pick-up and drop-off locations, as well as other areas around the school, and the number of school buses filling up with or emptying out of students can make for a good bit of organized chaos.
Add to that the disorganized chaos of drivers who are passing through the area, often in a hurry to reach their destination, and accidents can happen all too easily. Tragically, it is pedestrians and bicyclists who pay the price the most often.
Pedestrian accidents on the rise
According to a 2022 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), approximately 7,485 pedestrians were struck and killed by drivers in the United States in 2021. This was “the most pedestrian deaths in a single year in four decades and an average of 20 deaths every day.” Included in the GHSA’s report was an analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from 2020 that shows “the percentage of speeding-related pedestrian crashes involving children age 15 and younger more than doubled in the previous three years.”
Additionally, per the GHSA, preliminary data for the first half of 2021 reported by the State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) highlighted a possible connection between a substantial increase in pedestrian deaths and a significant increase in speeding, distracted driving, impaired driving, and other dangerous driving behaviors. Not coincidentally, some of these same behaviors are also common causes of pedestrian accidents that occur in school zones.
Common causes of pedestrian accidents in school zones
School has been back in session here in Charlotte for several weeks, just long enough for the nervous excitement of the first few weeks of school to wear off – and for drivers to become complacent about safety when traveling through school zones. In fact, that complacency often takes the form of speeding or distracted driving – two factors that are often involved when drivers hit pedestrians and bicyclists in school zones.
Common causes for pedestrian accidents in school zones include:
- Speeding. There is a reason so many municipalities restrict drivers’ speed in school zones: A vehicle speeding through an area filled with children and other pedestrians is a recipe for tragedy. In North Carolina, state law allows the Board of Transportation of local authorities to set speed limits for areas “adjacent to or near a public, private, or parochial school.”
- Distracted driving. Even a moment of inattention when driving through a school zone can result in a serious or even fatal accident. Drivers who are texting or talking on the phone, or who are distracted by their own children in their vehicle can easily miss a child stepping into the road. This can include parents and caregivers who are entering or leaving the school’s drop-off or pick-up lines – or who are in the line and not paying attention.
- Impaired driving. Any time a person gets behind the wheel who is intoxicated or high, they become a danger to themselves and everyone around them. This can include people who drive after taking prescription drugs that may cause drowsiness, or people who have not had enough sleep. Any of these factors can impair a driver’s reaction time, motor skills, and decision-making ability. The results can be deadly.
Pedestrian injuries from car and school bus accidents
Passenger cars and sport utility vehicles pose one kind of danger, and depending on the size of the vehicle, the size of the pedestrian, and the speed at which the vehicle is traveling when it hits the pedestrian, there can be serious or catastrophic injuries. Overall, larger vehicles tend to cause more catastrophic injuries – and what is larger than a school bus?
We’ve talked about the number of school bus accidents over the past year, and how statistically, buses are safer than cars. But that doesn’t mean that there is no risk to children at all.
Serious injuries can leave a pedestrian – especially a child – with physical, mental, and emotional scars. Depending on the severity of the injury or injuries, they may require not only immediate medical attention such as surgery or other procedures, but ongoing treatment or even lifelong care. Traumatic brain injuries in particular may interfere with a child’s intellectual development, snuffing out their once bright future. Even children who recover may develop post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can cause nightmares, anxiety, and panic attacks, among other issues.
Of course, the tragic reality is that children who are hit by a car or run over by a school bus may not survive. That is why it is imperative that negligent drivers and all other responsible entities be held accountable.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries from being hit by a car or school bus, particularly in a school zone in Charlotte or the surrounding area, the personal injury lawyers at Price, Petho & Associates can help. Our compassionate personal injury attorneys understand how stressful and overwhelming the experience can be, so we use our knowledge, skill, and extensive experience as car accident lawyers to achieve the best possible outcome for you. With offices in Charlotte, Rockingham, and Rutherfordton, we are prepared to assist clients throughout the Charlotte Metropolitan Area and beyond. Call us or fill out our contact form today to schedule a free consultation.
Attorney Doug Petho is the owner and founder of Price, Petho & Associates. His primary focus is the litigation of plaintiff’s personal injury suits, and he has successfully tried hundreds of cases to jury verdict involving car accidents, trucking accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and fall accidents, and work-related accidents. Contact his office in Charlotte today.