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What pedestrian dangers do children face when going back to school?

Children face many dangers when walking or riding bikes to and from school. Adverse weather and inattentive drivers can increase pedestrians’ risk.

It is the start of a new school year. In Louisiana and across the country, children are walking or riding their bicycles to and from school or their bus stops. Whether students are walking down the street to kindergarten or riding their bikes two miles to their high school, they can face significant dangers from the nearby traffic.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 127 pedestrian fatalities across the state of Louisiana in 2016, the most recent year for which data was available. This number was higher than any of the previous nine years, and illustrates the grave risk for children walking to school, as well as anyone who is a pedestrian.

Student hit by car before school in Sulphur

An accident that occurred in Sulphur last March highlights the dangers for children walking to school. KPLC News reported that a 12-year-old girl was struck by a car while crossing the street to get to her school bus. She was reported to be in critical condition.

Autumn factors contributing to child pedestrian dangers

Numerous factors ranging from busy traffic to adverse weather and poor road conditions can spell danger for children walking and riding bikes before and after school. As the National Safety Council points out, these hazards can include the following:

· Busy rush hour traffic that coincides with school starting and letting out

· Drivers who are fatigued, inattentive, intoxicated, distracted or unaware of the increase in child pedestrian traffic

· Sun glare decreasing visibility in the early mornings and afternoons

· Changing weather conditions, including frost, rain, wind and snow

While drivers bear much of the responsibility for avoiding accidents involving child pedestrians, children may also contribute to their own risk. For example, a young child may unexpectedly dart across the street. Older children might engage in horseplay with their peers and accidentally push a friend into the road. Drivers need to exercise caution whenever children are around and never assume they will obey the rules of traffic. It is also crucial for drivers to obey school zone speed limits, stop for crossing guards, watch for children when approaching crosswalks and intersections and yield to school buses that have their caution lights on or safety arms extended.

Parents may also want to review the rules about traffic safety with their children. These tips should include crossing the street only at designated crosswalks or with a crossing guard, never playing around near traffic, not texting on a phone while walking and always being aware of their surroundings. Louisiana parents may need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney if their child is struck by a car.