Traffic in California school zones is strictly regulated to protect our children from injury while going to and from school. A school zone is a designated area within 500 feet of the school in which the maximum speed limit is typically 25 mph. Some school zones may have speed limits as low as 15 mph. School zones are clearly marked and specific regulations are explicitly stated on road signs. However, despite extensive safety precautions and heavy fines for traffic violations, car accidents in school zones are all too common.
School Transportation-Related Accident Statistics
Every year during regular school travel hours, an estimated 152,000 school-age children are injured. Between 2011 and 2020, there were more than 1,000 fatal school transportation-related accidents.
While not all of these school transportation-related accidents occur in school zones, these areas can quickly become hectic during drop-off and pick-up times. In a joint study from Safe Kids Worldwide and FedEx, it was found that 3 out of 10 school zones were missing crosswalks. The report also noted that only 4 out of 10 school zones in the U.S. have posted speed limits of 20 mph or below.
Best Safety Practices in School Zones
In general, motorists are required to be more cautious when driving through a school zone. Even at lower speeds, it may still take up to 30 feet for a car to come to a complete halt. Also, it will be easier for children to react to a slower-moving vehicle than to one that is moving quickly.
Car accidents in school zones can still occur even if drivers obey traffic laws and speed limits, but the injuries caused by accidents and collisions with slowly moving vehicles are less likely to be severe or even fatal.
Furthermore, it is crucial that drivers eliminate any type of distraction when crossing a school zone. Cell phone use is generally prohibited, and motorists should refrain from listening to the radio at a very high volume, applying makeup, or eating. Drivers need to be prepared to stop at any time, should a child run into the road.
Vehicles must come to a complete halt when approaching a stop sign or signal to make it apparent for smaller children that they will wait until they have crossed the road. Watch out for obstacles in the road, including balls or other toys.
School buses may not be passed within school zones. Since buses are larger than most cars, it is hard to see whether a child may have stepped into the road with the intention to cross. Children behind the bus may not be able to see oncoming traffic. Motorists should always stop behind the bus until its hazard lights are turned off and it resumes its route.
Using designated drop-off and pick up locations prevents children from having to cross the road to get to school or access the bus. Further, parents are advised to teach their children safe practices for their walk and/or ride to school, including crossing the road at a clearly marked crosswalk. Children should only cross intersections where a crossing guard is present. When riding a bicycle, it is best practice for children to walk their bicycle across intersections.
Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accidents in California
Typically in California, you will have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. This is known as the statute of limitations and it can vary depending on the type of claim and the state in which you live. If you do not file your claim within this time frame, you may be barred from pursuing any legal action.
If you are involved in a car accident, the first thing you should do is assess the situation and make sure that everyone involved is okay. If anyone is injured, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Once you have done this, you should exchange insurance information with the other driver and contact the police to file a report.
If there is significant damage to either vehicle or if anyone appears to be seriously injured, it is best to wait for the police to arrive before exchanging information. Once the police have arrived and filed a report, you can obtain a copy of this report, which will be helpful when filing an insurance claim.
California is a comparative negligence state, which means that you can still recover compensation even if you are partially at fault for an accident. However, the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, if you are found to be 20 percent at fault for an accident that caused $10,000 in damages, you would be able to recover $8,000 from the other driver.
Get Help from an Experienced Manhattan Beach Car Accident Lawyer
Following the recommendations above will reduce the risk of accidents in school zones immensely and help children stay safe on their way to and from school. However, not all accidents can be prevented. If you or your child has been injured in a car accident that occurred in a school zone, please contact the Law Offices of Scott Dinsmore, APC in Manhattan Beach today and schedule a free consultation with us. We are here to help you protect your legal rights and recover fair compensation from the negligent party.