Schoolchildren Face Traffic Dangers When School Lets Out

A recent article by Jennifer Steinhauer of The New York Times discusses the dangers middle school students face when they become pedestrians when the school bell rings. The number of serious traffic incidents involving schoolchildren across the 900 Los Angeles public schools has significantly increased, particularly around middle schools. From January to November 2008, there were 153 traffic-related injuries around schools, which Los Angeles public school officials said was much higher than five years ago. Last year, two eighth-grade girls in Wilmington, near the Port of Los Angeles, were hit by vehicles near school, and one girl was left partly paralyzed.

At Florence Nightingale Middle School in Los Angeles, California, when school lets out for the day, traffic chaos ensues. Parents double-park and park where the school buses are supposed to pick-up the children. School administrators and parents are trying to help. But without proper training, that can lead to problems. Some parents try to intervene, sometimes though a school district program that trains them how to manage car-pool lanes during drop off.

Many argue that enhancing enforcement of traffic laws around schools is what’s required. The danger to students has increased because of a large growth in student enrollment and an increase in the number of parents who drive their children to and from school out of fear for their safety, said Michael Hopwood, the central operations coordinator for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Especially in high-crime areas, parents are reluctant to let their children walk. The cost of public transportation is also a reason why some parents drive their children to school.

The traffic dangers have become so widespread that the Los Angeles City Attorneys Office will soon begin training parents for volunteer traffic control and safety duty. Financing for crossing guards has decreased steadily over 15 years, and there is a lack of applicants for the jobs, school district officials said. In recent years, traffic has become among the top three safety concerns in schools, said Mr. Hopwood.

In studying the safety problems at the middle schools, the Los Angeles city attorneys school safety prosecutors were surprised to see that traffic was a pressing problem at nearly all of the nine most troubled schools. The office, using Los Angeles Police Department officers, came up with a training program and bought traffic safety equipment bright vests, traffic cones to try to professionalize parents and other volunteers.

In our Long Island school district there are committees at some of the schools that deal solely with traffic issues because of the concern to students when parents come to pick-up their children at the end of the day. The traffic pattern at our elementary school seems to change almost every year.

One of the dangers is that parents often do not follow the rules, especially if nobody from the school is present to enforce them. I’ve seen parents drop their children off where the child has to cross in front of a moving lane of traffic in order to reach the sidewalk. I sometimes wonder what those parents are thinking.

The lawyers at Levine & Slavit have decades of experience handling personal injury claims including those involving auto accidents. For over 50 years spanning 3 generations, we have obtained results for satisfied clients. We have offices in Manhattan and Long Island, handling cases in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and surrounding areas.

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit for their help. To learn more, watch our videos.

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