The Kids are Back in School. Slow down. Share the Road.

It is hard to believe that our kids have already started school after another summer has come and gone.   This is a good time for an important reminder from all of us at the law firm of Theodoros & Rooth:  Watch out for children as they are walking to school and crossing the streets.

First and foremost, watch your speeds in school zones.  Indiana traffic laws define the maximum speed that any motorist travelling on Indiana roadways can legally drive. Driving over the Indiana speed limit can result in a traffic citation, fine, license suspension, or even arrest.  In Indiana, school zones have a 20 – 25mph speed limit during school hours; the first 1 – 2 hours of school, and the last 1 – 2 hours of school. In some urban areas the speed limit is 30mph.  A new state law was passed in April that allows local governments to reduce the speed limit down to 20 mph.

When Dropping Off Your Kids

The National Safe Routes to School program provides this vital information:

Schools often have very specific drop-off procedures for the school year.  Make sure you know them for the safety of all kids. More children are hit by cars near schools than any other location.

The following items apply to all school zones:

  • Don’t double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
  • Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school
  • Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school

Share the Road

According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are between the ages of 4 to 7 years old, walking, and they are either hit by the bus or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. These few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:

  • Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic.
  • In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.
  • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
  • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
  • Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way.
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
  • Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way.

Watch for School Busses

It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.

You must stop before meeting or overtaking a school bus loading or unloading passengers on a two-lane roadway. You must remain stopped until the stop signal arm is no longer extended and the flashing lights are turned off or the driver signals you to pass.

Unless there is a divider in the roadway, like a concrete or grass median between opposing lanes of traffic, all lanes must stop for school buses.

In Indiana the fine for not stopping for a school bus is a $300 ticket.  In certain situations it can be a lot more.

  • Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children.
  • If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop…..
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.

Sharing the Road with Bicyclists

Many kids are old enough to ride their bikes to school.  The National Safety Council also offers this advice about motor vehicles and bicycles.

On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because they usually are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.

  • When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist.
  • When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass.
  • If you’re turning right and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals.
  • Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this.
  • Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods.
  • Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars.
  • Check side mirrors before opening your door.

Like many of you, the attorneys at Theodoros & Rooth also have families with children.  If we work together, we can make this school year a happy and safe one for all.   However, if your child is a victim of an accident by an at-fault driver, contact us immediately.  Our team will carefully listen to the details of your situation and decide if you have a case.  The consultation is always free and there are no fees unless win your case or there is a settlement.