School has been back in session only a short while and already there have been local traffic accidents involving students. In mid-September, a North Miami Senior High School student was killed and two others injured after they were hit by a car as they crossed the street on their walk to school in the early morning hours. The father of the deceased student, overcome with emotion, collapsed at the scene and had to be treated by emergency responders. One of the two injured students (who were sisters) was airlifted to a trauma center and the other was also hospitalized. The investigation is ongoing as to whether speed, intoxication or texting were contributing factors. A memorial erected near the crash site shows the effect that an accident such as this has on the family, friends, classmates, teachers and community left behind.
In early October, a vehicle rear-ended a school bus in North Lauderdale as the bus was on its morning rounds. The car went almost completely under the bus and sustained heavy damage. Luckily, no one was injured, but two students on the bus had to be put on a different one to be taken to school. Certainly that incident was traumatic for the students and one that easily could have turned out very differently. These are just two examples of the kinds of accidents that seem to happen every school year.
Of course, driving safety and pedestrian awareness are always important, but extra attention should be paid in school zones as well as when school is starting and ending for the day. The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) has partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) to remind drivers to:
- Follow posted speed limits and road signs in and around school zones.
- Avoid passing a school bus that has stopped to load or unload children.
- Watch for flashing lights on school buses. Flashing yellow lights are warnings that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload kids. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign signal arm extending from the bus are used to alert drivers that the school bus has stopped and students are getting on or off.
- Treat the area 10 feet around a school bus as a danger zone that motorists should stay out of to allow children the necessary amount of space to safely enter and exit the bus.
- Never block the crosswalk with any part of their vehicle.
- Always obey directions from school safety personnel when traveling in a school zone.
- Allow more commuting time when school is in session.
- Be patient. There is simply no room for aggressive driving around a school bus.
For those who travel by school bus, it’s also a good idea to have a safe place to wait – away from traffic and the street. Be sure to tell your children not to approach the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals them to enter. In an ideal world, we all would pay attention and share the road. Pedestrians would use crosswalks, bicyclists would ride in the direction of traffic, and drivers would be alert to people on foot or on bike. Regrettably, the world is far from perfect.
At Stabinski & Funt, P.A., we have successfully represented victims throughout Florida who have been seriously hurt by negligent drivers. We have also assisted families who have lost loved ones in traffic accidents. For over 45 years, we have been helping injured motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists put their lives back on track, and we are ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next, or if you have any questions about this topic, call 305-643-3100 or fill out a free case evaluation form.