After an exciting summer break with plenty of adventure, fun and a few (well, a lot) of rainy days; it’s finally ‘back to School’ time! September has worked its way towards us all summer until we are finally here, the beginning of the new academic year and the next set of School runs. With that in mind, now is the perfect time to remind yourself to be extra vigilant and take all necessary precautions to stay safe when walking your child into School. Part 1 of this 2 part article aims to help remind all parents walking with children of the dangers of not staying vigilant on roads around schools.
Casualties around schools
Managing road traffic accidents involving children aged 16 and under is a large task in the UK. With statistics showing 2,412 children killed or seriously injured in 2011 and 800 of the same incidents in 2012, it’s imperative to ensure the decline continues and incidents involving school children are prevented. Post 2000 there has been a positive and steady decrease in the amount of children seriously injured by road users (see below); hopefully this can continue with both drivers and pedestrians around schools more mindful of their surroundings, exercising correct caution.
Keeping the graph in mind, Sincere Law has looked into the most common reasons for accidents involving children around schools and has come up with our best practices to remember when walking your child to the school gates each morning. Some of them may already be very obvious, but it never hurts to revise; the cost of your child’s health and life is far too important!
Staying safe for pedestrians
1. Hand in hand is the way to go
Younger children feel safer when an adult is there to hold their hand through many situations. From a young age it is a good idea to get them into the habit of holding hands while crossing the road for safety. Of course from a parent’s perspective, having your child in hand will ensure no running out in front will occur, lowering the risk of falling from the pavement or straying into the road towards danger.
2. Beware when between cars
There isn’t always a zebra crossing, pelican crossing or crossing guard available outside every school. If there is outside of your child’s school, make the most of it/them and encourage your child to always use the safest spots to cross. If the school however is on a road that has cars parked along the perimeter, it is vital to impress upon your child the dangers of crossing between cars on a busy street. If avoidable, always cross where there is clear daylight to see oncoming cars and bikes so they can see you. If though you have no other options, do not walk out between them, but take extra time and care to let yourself and your child have a clear crossing.
3. Take the outside lane
An unwritten parental rule is to have your child walk to your left and away from any road. Younger children in particular will sometimes veer off course, maybe stumble or try and walk off ahead by themselves. The closer to the road they walk the higher risk of danger from passing vehicles. Of course around a school environment we all would hope drivers obey the 20mph speed limits and drive safely, but to not take that risk and enforce “adults on the road side” can avoid any falling/venturing into the road and into the path of imminent dangers.
4. Copy David Prowse’s fine example
Back in the 1970’s, 1980’s and as late as 1990, Britain’s premier bodybuilder of the era, known best on the big screen as Darth Vader; David Prowse; portrayed to children across the nation the knowledagble ‘Green Cross Code Man’. The faux superhero protected youngsters who strayed near the road and didn’t pay attention, warning them of the dangers of doing so. While he may not be around to guard our school runs in 2015, his message lives on. Impart on your children the green cross code, the tried and tested stop, look, listen and cross. You don’t need to wear a white and green costume to bring enlightenment to your children on road safety.
5. Encourage constant concentration
While knowledge of the green cross code can help instil the routine needed to stay safe on the roads (not just on the way to school), it also needs to be accompanied by an alert pedestrian. Reminding your child to keep looking when crossing, even when holding your hand, will help keep their mind vigilant; doing so regularly will also help develop the understanding of always looking and always watching for hazards. For best practice it is worth teaching them to keep looking each way even when crossing to make sure no imminent danger is approaching like an unseen bike or a car that has sped up and approaching faster than anticipated. Only when on the opposite side is everything safe again.
6. Timing is key
We understand the hectic nature of a family home in the morning, parents trying to drink down their hot tea or coffee in one go as they grab their coat to leave for work, the children are never seemingly ready for school and in a constant state of “just have to put my shoes on” and the dog is still hungry from not being fed yet. A household is incredibly hard to manage in a morning and it is tempting once you leave with child in hand to let autopilot take over as you rush to get them to school on time. Being late and rushing can compromise safety if attention drops. It may be a difficult suggestion to make, but making sure everybody leaves 5 minutes earlier than usual could very well ensure a race against the clock is not on the cards and awareness is increased. An alert and attentive mind not preoccupied with trying to beat the clock could save lives!
Road accidents by schools – the impact
The result of a car, motorcycle or even a bicycle striking a child under 16 can have devastating consequences. Cars driving above 30mph can kill children due to the body not being fully developed and able to cope with the impact. Even bicycles can cause severe internal bruising, bleeding, bone breaks and head injuries as a result of the initial strike.
Not all accidents with children by schools are fatal, but a non fatal crash can change lives just as much. The likelihood of sustaining harsher impact injuries such as spinal damage, brain damage, bone breaks and hyperextensions in the body are higher than that of an adult. The results can require lengthy rehabilitation from the resetting of bones, repair and physiotherapy needed to help muscle tears, and potentially psychological assistance as suffering from an incident at a young age can affect a child for the remainder of their life.
Alterations to lifestyles could be required from help moving around the house if the accident results in limited or loss of mobility and care may need to be provided if there are effects on the ability to perform regular tasks. Having dealt with very sensitive cases such as these for over 20 years we know what is required to help a family and child recover as best they can from an accident on the road, around school or otherwise. If you or somebody you know has suffered from an incident involving a child on the road, feel free to call us for expert, impartial advice on 0800 092 2896 or contact us here for all the information you need to start a claim and get some measure of justice for your family’s misfortune.