What You Should Know About School Zone Driving and Crashes

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What You Should Know About School Zone Driving and Crashes

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Synopsis

  • Distracted drivers remain a leading cause behind school year car, bus, and truck accidents and texting while driving has become a significant contributor to distracted driving accidents for drivers of all ages in school zones.
  • No form of mobile phone use is safe while driving but carrying on social conversations through the use of texting, social media apps, and e-mail while operating a motor vehicle is especially dangerous.
  • A top driving distraction for teens is interacting with a smartphone, including texting or social media use, according to a 2018 survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
  • Practicing safe driving decisions such as being on the lookout for buses and pedestrians, and never driving distracted in school zones are the responsibilities of all drivers.

Texting While Driving Remains Major Distraction Behind School Year Crashes

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) crash data, the start of a new school year is often a trigger for the number of school zone accidents and injuries to children caused by crashes to increase. While some factors contribute to the influx of more vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians sharing congested school paths, the cause of the accidents is rooted in distraction, especially by mobile phones. The motor vehicle accident lawyers at Rhoads & Rhoads have pulled together a bit more information on how cell phone distractions impact drivers of all ages, each school year.

1 out of Every 4 Car Accidents Is Caused by Texting 

Nearly 80 percent of crashes involve some form of distraction within three seconds before the accident. And the National Safety Council says the diversion of texting and driving causes 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States each year. During the months school is in session, it is especially important to stay off the phone while driving and slow down when driving in neighborhoods with school zones. A driver who is on their phone is not able to watch for children walking, riding, playing or waiting near bus stops.

Including mobile technologies, all drivers should avoid these known distractions to keep everyone on the road safe from a serious injury or accident-related fatality.

  • cellphone use or texting
  • eating or drinking
  • drowsiness
  • generally distracted or “lost in thought”
  • outside person, object or event
  • passengers or pets
  • smoking
  • in-vehicle technologies or controls
  • using or reaching for a device

Not only are distractions a leading cause of car crashes, but some are also illegal. In 2010, Kentucky law banned texting for drivers of all ages while the vehicle is in motion. Have everyone in your family download a safe driving app to their mobile device such as LifeSaver, Drivesafe.ly, True Motion Family, DriveMode, and SafeDriver or enable their phone to its “do not disturb while driving” feature, most commonly found with Apple technology.

Young Drivers Are More Easily Distracted

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says more than 50 percent of serious teen crashes are now believed to be caused by distractions. And although safety officials have been urging parents to play an active role in helping prevent serious car and truck accidents by getting more involved and talking to their teens about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel, the truth is, the conversation isn’t happening enough.

The start of a new school year can serve as a reminder to review our resources and recommendations on how to stay actively involved in coaching teen drivers and these three tips.

  1. Facilitate regular conversations and reminders about the dangers of speeding and distracted driving.
  2. Take the time to practice driving with your teen in varying conditions including in congested, parking lot traffic that mimics that of a school zone.
  3. Create and enforce a parent-teen driving agreement that sets rules for the road and explains the consequences of making poor driving choices like driving impaired, disobeying traffic laws, or causing an accident.

Lastly, be a good driver by example and become aware of your distractions and poor driving behaviors when you are driving. This can help show young passengers and drivers the right choices to make while operating a motor vehicle.

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Distracted Driving and Sharing the Road with Kentucky School Buses

Crashes involving school buses often end in tragedy and are caused by reckless and distracted drivers, and those who are unfamiliar with school zone and school bus passing laws. Data from the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services says in 2018, more than 83,000 cars passed buses illegally on a single school day, representing a sharp increase from 74,000 in 2016. Furthermore, as many as 17,000 children are injured or fatally struck when getting on or off a school bus or standing near a bus stop, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

Distracted drivers are often in a hurry to get somewhere and may not see the precious cargo being loaded or unloaded from a bus when they decide to pass illegally or speed up around a school zone. For these reasons, anyone responsible for a motor vehicle needs to become better acquainted with a driving lesson on how to interact with Kentucky School buses.

Traffic from both directions of a bus must stop: 

  • On a two-lane roadway, when a school bus stops for students, all traffic from both directions must stop.
  • On a two-lane roadway with a center turn lane, when a school bus stops for students, all traffic from both directions must stop.

Traffic driving behind a bus must stop:

  • On a four-lane roadway with no median, when a school bus stops for students, only traffic following the bus must stop.
  • On a four-lane divided highway with a median, when a school bus stops for students, only traffic following the bus must stop.
  • On a four-lane roadway with a center turn lane, when a school bus stops for students, only traffic following the bus must stop.

Like most accidents, many school zone crashes are avoidable. Drivers should be planning better for staying safe around schools by minimizing all distractions. If anyone in your family finds themselves injured in a motor vehicle accident this school season; please know we are here to help.

Contact Rhoads & Rhoads Car Accident Injury Attorneys 

If someone in your family has been involved in a school zone related auto accident or you have been injured because of a distracted driver, the car accident legal team at Rhoads & Rhoads offers free initial consultations. With offices in Owensboro and Madisonville, Rhoads & Rhoads attorneys are available and ready to fight for Western Kentucky families.

Call us at 888-709-9329 or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys. All cases are taken on a contingency fee basis.

Also read: Tips for Both Motorists and Bike Riders to Keep Each Other Safe

About the Author:

Chris Rhoads is a partner in the firm’s Owensboro office and has been practicing law since 1996. He practiced law in the firm of Woodward, Hobson & Fulton in Lexington, Kentucky in its trial practice and product liability litigation section for five years before joining Rhoads and Rhoads in 2000.

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