Many Florida students have been looking forward to heading back to school. But it can be an especially perilous time on the roads, given an influx of traffic by drivers who are young, inexperienced and just learning their new routes and routines.
According to the National Safety Council, more children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location. F.S. 316.1895 is Florida's establishment of school speed zones, enforcement and designation. Counties and municipalities have responsibility for the maintenance of school zones within their jurisdiction. These zones, which have speed limits of between 15 mph and 20 mph, must be periodically inspected to determine proper maintenance.
If you or a loved one is involved in an auto accident that occurs in a school zone, you may need the advice of a personal injury lawyer to analyze whether the site was properly maintained. Failure on this front may be a contributing factor to a crash that could lead to liability not only for the involved driver, but the county or city responsible for maintenance.
Real Life School Zone Accidents Have Hurt Children Across the South
There are many risks faced by drivers and pedestrians in school zones. Some are expected, such as heavy bus traffic, and child pedestrians.
High school traffic is a particularly dangerous problem in and near school zones, as inexperienced teen drivers are concentrated in large numbers. One such accident occurred at Nease High School in St. Johns County, Florida. Two sisters were involved in a serious accident while leaving the school parking lot. News 4 reports that they had to be extracted from their vehicle by fire department crews, after which they were airlifted to trauma centers.
Children can be particularly vulnerable in school zones when they do not use safe pedestrian habits. This is what caused the death of a twelve-year-old boy here in Jacksonville. According to First Coast News, the boy was crossing the street near his school. He was not in a crosswalk at the time of his death. There was a crosswalk with a crossing guard further down the road.
Other hazards can be bizarre and unforeseeable. Such was the case for one Charlotte pedestrian who was struck and killed in a school zone. According to WSOC, the pedestrian was struck by a police cruiser responding to a call. The officer, only twenty-four years old, was travelling at around one hundred miles per hour in a school zone, where the speed limit was thirty-five. The officer has been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle.
How Jacksonville Students, Parents, Teachers and School Staff Can Stay Safe in School Zones
- Be prepared to react to sudden movements from other vehicles and from children entering or exiting the school. Young children are impulsive, and do not always follow proper safety protocol near schools. Allow yourself enough time and space to react to any unexpected obstacles.
- Do not make impulsive driving decisions or unexpected movements. In a crowded parking lot, other drivers will often have no space or time to react to your sudden maneuvers. Signal your intentions well in advance, and execute movements slowly to ensure your path is, indeed, clear.
- Familiarize yourself with drop off and pickup procedures at your child's school before the school year starts. Heavy traffic and impulsive children can make it difficult to know where to go once school is in session.
- Do not double park or otherwise block visibility. In crowded conditions, it is especially important that drivers be able to safely maneuver around other vehicles.
- Teach your child to be particularly cautious in and around their high school. High schools have high concentrations of young, inexperienced drivers. Teen drivers should be prepared to respond to erratic movements, pedestrians, heavy traffic and other hazards they will face at their school.
If you or your student has been injured in a school zone accident, contact a Jacksonville car accident attorney as soon as possible. You have legal rights which must be protected.