Pedestrian accidents can be an issue when school starts

The start of the school year can mean great danger for children walking to school or the bus stop, as pedestrian accidents have increased in Pennsylvania.

During the summer, children risked being hit by cars as they walked or rode their bikes to friends' houses, the pool, the park or other places for summer activities. The danger won't go away now that fall is nearly here. With school about to start, children still face traffic dangers. Of course, people of any age can get hit by cars in Pennsylvania, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that children are among those most at risk for being involved in pedestrian accidents.

Pedestrian crashes are an important issue in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, these accidents account for nearly 13 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state. In 2012, 168 pedestrians were killed in Pennsylvania, an increase over the previous four years. Most of these accidents involved people crossing the street, playing, walking or running-activities many children do while going to school or the bus stop.

Tragic after-school accident highlights dangers for kids

Drivers may not encounter as many children walking near traffic during school hours, but it should come as no surprise that mornings and afternoons are when the risk is greatest. Early mornings, when children walk to the bus stop or to school, frequently coincide with traffic rush hour. Afternoons can be just as dangerous.

WTAE Pittsburgh reported on an incident in March, when a 14-year-old girl crossing the street after school in McKeesport was struck by a dump truck and killed. It was thought that a school bus might have impeded the girl's view of traffic as she crossed. Parents, school officials and bus drivers complained that the busy intersection near the school was not clearly marked and students were put at risk by speeding traffic.

Unsafe roadways are a major reason so many pedestrians are hit, says Smart Growth America. While many communities have taken measures to make roads safer and more welcoming for foot traffic, a large number of roadways across the U.S. are still largely unsafe for people to walk along. These include busy metropolitan areas with heavy traffic and rural roads with no sidewalks and high speed limits.

Common situations posing risks for pedestrians

The following are some of the situations that occur most often to injure or kill people walking near traffic:

  • Pedestrians are hit while crossing the street or at an intersection, even a crosswalk that is clearly marked.
  • Drivers don't notice someone walking in a parking lot or another area where vehicles park.
  • Traffic is heavy or visibility is poor, such as during bad weather or when the sun is glaring.
  • A small child is walking or playing near a driveway, behind other parked cars or in other areas where children are difficult to see.

Parents can teach their children safety rules while walking near traffic, but these measures only go so far. Drivers must always pay attention and realize that pedestrians can be nearby at any time.

Getting help from an attorney

Pedestrian accidents frequently result in catastrophic injuries or worse. If you or your child were injured as a pedestrian, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options.

Keywords: pedestrian, accident, injury