Drivers urged to watch for child pedestrians during NSC safety campaign

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Children are particularly in danger walking to school. During the National Safety Council’s Back to School month, drivers are reminded to be careful.

During the summer, many children can be seen on Chicago streets walking or riding their bikes to and from their friends' houses, playgrounds or around their own neighborhoods. Soon enough, they will start school again, and drivers will encounter children walking in the early mornings and afternoons as they head to and from school. It can be easy to miss a child around all of the other traffic distractions and hazards, which is why the National Safety Council has designated August as Back to School Month. This is to draw attention to the dangers that young pedestrians face, and to get drivers accustomed once again to the idea of paying attention to school zones and buses.

The danger is a significant one: The National Safety Council states that thousands of children are injured or killed by being struck by cars each year, and that most of these accidents occur near schools. Most of these young victims are between four and seven years old and are hit while crossing the street, by cars attempting to pass a stopped school bus or by buses themselves.

Young girl killed in crosswalk on her way to school

Last May, a tragic accident in the community of West Englewood highlighted a typical danger that children face. The Chicago Tribune reported that a 7-year-old girl was crossing the street with her mother near her elementary school when the intersection light changed. A tractor driver struck mother and child in the crosswalk. The little girl later died in the hospital. The driver was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

Auto collisions involving child pedestrians, like the one above, frequently occur at intersections and in crosswalks. Drivers may prevent a similar tragedy by observing the following safety rules:

  • Always stop when a bus has its lights flashing and the safety arm extended.
  • Never try to go around a car or bus in a school zone, which may be waiting to let children cross the street.
  • Yield to children in a school zone, regardless of whether they are observing pedestrian laws.
  • Avoid stopping in a crosswalk while making a turn or waiting at a red light, which could block children from safely crossing.
  • Never rev the engine or honk the horn at pedestrians, which may scare them and create a dangerous situation.

It is important to understand that children may not fully understand the dangers when walking near traffic. They may not be able to recognize some traffic hazards, such as how fast an oncoming vehicle is approaching or how far away it is. This is why it is crucial for drivers to always be vigilant of the possibility of children nearby. Families who were impacted by a pedestrian accident have the right to contact a Chicago personal injury attorney to discuss their options regarding compensation.