Safety on the school run – Part 2

Last week we gave you part 1 of “safety on the school run”. That article focused on how to best stay safe as a pedestrian walking to school with an emphasis on being aware of vehicles and your child at all times. The second of our two part blog offers the top tips for when you are actually on the road and behind the wheel.

Sincere Law - School run safety

500m danger zone

Back in 2013, research facility “Road Safety Analysis” and AXA insurance helped spearhead a report that pointed to the danger of road accidents within 500m of the school gates. Statistics coming from the report indicate that in 37% of UK school boroughs, an average of 1 child per year was involved in a road traffic accident within the 500m radius around a school.

The study was conducted between 2006 and 2011 with the total number of accidents within 500m to be 85,814, averaging 1,190 per month. Alongside injuries the inquest also dealt with the number of vehicle collisions totalling 557,200 in the same time period, equating to an average of 6 collisions per school per year!

School run etiquette

In the UK there are multiple organisations supporting road safety, all of which offer tips and reminders to drive responsibly around your local schools (such as the National Safety Council). We have however compiled our own top 6 tips to help keep yourself, your child and everybody else’s children safe during the daily drive to school.

 

1. Make it leisurely

Your time in a morning is precious. Running a household is no easy task, making sure the pets are fed, the youngsters are well nourished, clothed and packed; securing the house before leaving and making sure you have all of your own materials alongside the kids’ is quite an achievement once completed. It can be very easy to be dragged into a race to the gates by unforeseen problems cropping up in a morning. With that in mind, as easy to say but hard to implement as it is, doing everything 5 minutes earlier and leaving the house a little sooner than usual to could make all the difference to your journey. A relaxed driver is a vigilant driver; rushing increases risk of reduced attention span and in turn increases the risk of not spotting a stray child or the car in front breaking suddenly. Turn the race against time into a leisurely, pleasant drive.

 

2. No cruise control

You know the route, you know where the shortcuts are, and exactly how long to the millisecond the morning run takes. However, letting that knowledge pilot you from home to school heightens the risk of cruise control setting in and could lower awareness of your immediate surroundings. Driver error causes on average 67.5% of road traffic accidents, accounting for 65% of all fatal road traffic accidents and 61% of serious traffic accidents. Driver error includes the following instances:

  • Failing to look properly
  • Failing to judge other people’s path or speed
  • Being careless, reckless or in a hurry
  • Loss of control
  • Poor turning or manoeuvring
  • Travelling too fast for the conditions
  • Not accounting for a slippery road due to weather
  • Sudden braking
  • Tailgating

With so many factors contributing to driver error, it’s important you are aware at all times. Hazard perception is an integral part of safe driving, not just spotting oncoming pedestrians but judging speeds and distances, making note of how the weather affects the journey and driving smoothly all add to a safe, comfortable drive.

 

3. Speed kills

A sentiment heavily pushed with the assistance of public service films on our television screens and on posters over the years (See “its 30mph for a reason” video below). It is without question that speeding is dangerous regardless of where you do it, but add that to a school environment; parked cars, public transport, pedestrians and unpredictable children added to the mix, there is potential for serious harm with a collision of any kind. It’s tempting to sneak extra speed into a drive if you are worried about timing, but the risk of a life against turning up 1 or 2 minutes later than normal is a trade off not worth making.

4. Every child is your child

The best selling book in the world states a simple line within it that a famous man once said. He told us “do unto others as you would have them do to you”. Very philosophical words for a blog about taking the children to school; but one which is very appropriate. As the quote suggests, you should treat every child, every parent walking hand in hand with their little one, as you and your own. If you were in their position and they were driving in your vicinity, you would very much hope they were careful, courteous drivers; and with that in mind you should be the same back to them.

5. Make eye contact

When establishing a relationship we are advised to make lots of eye contact. It builds trust, creates a rapport and lets us make lots of nonverbal communication. Simply connecting eye to eye allows two people to acknowledge they are both aware of a situation, be it two people looking across a dinner table on a date, friends exchanging an “in joke” via a quick glance at each other, or, importantly in this case, a pedestrian and driver acknowledging they are there and want to use the road safely. It can be a quick, efficient way of determining another road user’s intention. For the ability to judge when to slow down and stop, a simple glance towards one another can be a life saver.

6. Park safe

When it finally comes time to pulling up and either letting your child jump out or stopping and walking the final few steps with them, remember to park in a spot that will not cause problems for other road users. Nobody likes poor parking, but the feeling is even worse should a parked car obstruct traffic in any way, make it difficult to manoeuvre around or obstruct the view of pedestrians looking to cross the road. As with point 4, you would likely not appreciate a bad example of parking, so make sure you are not that example. Good parking etiquette includes:

  • Using designated bays
  • Parking on roadsides that do not contain double yellow lines
  • Giving enough room on both the road and pavement
  • Only opening doors when it is safe
  • Indicating to pull over and park in good time

Follow the simple steps and your final drop off will be stress free, safe and carry the least risk for all involved.

Be the shining example

Using this two part article, allow yourself to be the example setter. It’s very easy to slip into routines and into autopilot during tasks you do every single day. With the school run, as a pedestrian or driver, consider not only your child’s safety, but that of your fellow parent’s. If you show them the extended courtesy of being a mindful pedestrian, or a careful driver, it can spread to others and keep our schools, and our children, safe. Sincere Law has come across many cases relating to accidents around schools in the past, we would definitely like to see the number of children’s cases drop.

If your family has however suffered on the school run in an accident that wasn’t your fault, see what we can do for you. We offer free, impartial advice and expert guidance on how to deal with injuries to children. To get a free, confidential call from one of our solicitors, contact us here or call us on 0800 092 2896. All of our solicitors works on a no win, no fee basis, giving you no risk to starting your claim today.

 

Safety on the school run – Part 1

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.

 

school road traffic accidents

Source – http://makingthelink.net/child-deaths-road-traffic-accidents

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.

The Beatles - Abbey Road                                                               The Beatles setting a good example of a safe 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.