School safety is a priority, which is why school zones are protected areas.
School zones are designed to be safe places for children and teenagers. This is because activity is higher in these areas in the morning when children are dropped off and in the afternoon when children are picked up from school. There are reduced speed limits and harsher laws in place in these areas to ensure the safety of the children going to school.
But what happens if an accident occurs within one of these areas? And what causes these accidents to occur?
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents in School Zones
First and foremost, it’s important to recognize that the word “pedestrian” includes more than just people walking. In this case it can also refer to joggers/runners, cyclists, skateboarders, and roller skaters.
These accidents can occur because of:
- rolling stops/failure to stop
- excessive speeding
- reckless driving
- poor intersection design or maintenance
- drunk or distracted driving
- passing a school bus
The most common causes of these accidents are reckless driving and distracted driving. Drivers often aren’t paying attention to the road and may not see when they are driving in a school zone. This may lead to their driving too fast, potentially injuring someone in the process. Distracted driving can also cause accidents. If someone isn’t paying attention, they may fail to stop at stop signs or at crosswalks.
School Zone Laws in Minnesota
According to the Public Health Law Center of Minnesota, “Reduced speeds allow motorists more time to avoid collisions. A motor vehicle traveling at 50 mph requires 424 feet to come to a complete stop, while a vehicle traveling at 25 mph requires only 152 feet.”
They also go on to state that at 40 mph (miles per hour), 85% of struck pedestrians died, and at 30 mph, 45% died. At 20 mph, there were almost no deaths. School zones require slower mileage simply because traveling at a slower speed prevents fatal accidents.
In Minnesota, the law states that the speed limit shall not be lower than 15 mph or higher than 30 mph. Other than that, the speed is up to the jurisdiction of the road authority for each area. The state also follows a three step procedure including “The School Route Plan,” “Hazard Identification,” and “Education.” These three steps are used to make sure that each school zone is as safe as possible for children.
How to Stay Safe in School Zones
Staying safe in school zones should be easy. Children shouldn’t have to worry too hard about avoiding accidents. The road markings and flow of pedestrian traffic should be easy to understand. If necessary, a crossing guard will be present to protect children and direct traffic so things flow more easily.
It’s up to drivers to remain safe in these areas as well. Staying off your phone, following the speed limit and rules of the school zone, and remaining focused while driving will help you avoid an accident. If you or your child is injured in a school zone pedestrian accident, the driver may be liable if they were acting with negligence.
How Are School Zone Accidents Different From Regular Pedestrian Accidents?
Approximately 25,000 children are injured each year in school zone accidents, with about 100 children being killed. Unlike regular pedestrian accidents, school zone accidents are more likely to happen on weekdays as opposed to weekends. These accidents also most often occur during regular daylight hours, with good lighting and good weather conditions. Regular pedestrian accidents often occur in poor lighting and poor weather conditions.
School zone pedestrian accidents more often occur because of driver negligence. Drivers are given extra signage and a lower speed limit to follow so they’re more alert while driving. The lower speed limit allows them to have a greater reaction time so accidents can be more easily avoided. This means that when an accident does occur, it usually means that negligence was involved, usually in the form of speeding or distracted driving.
In some cases the school or road authority may also be liable for these accidents if proper signage isn’t displayed or if school zone rules aren’t enforced.
Recovering Damages from a School Zone Accident
After an accident injury, you may feel like you have a mountain of debt to deal with. Not only that, but you may be stressed or having trouble with your mental health. As these accidents frequently happen to adults, you may be incredibly worried for your child. The damages you recover can help you feel less stressed and more ready to get back to helping your child heal.
As for economic damages, you can receive compensation for medical bills (such as hospital visits, surgery costs, therapy, and more), as well as any wages you may have lost while taking care of your child (or yourself).
For non-economic damages, the big one that many people look for is pain and suffering damages. This compensation is intended to lift some of the stress off of your shoulders. While it is hard to put a monetary value to your accident, this compensation may help your family get back on their feet.
Contact a Minnesota Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
If you or your child has been injured in a school zone pedestrian accident, please contact one of our experienced attorneys here at Sand Law LLC. We have years of experience negotiating with insurance companies, determining liability, and getting our clients the most compensation possible. For more information or a free case evaluation, please contact us online or at 651-291-7263.