As the school year ends and pandemic restrictions continue to be rolled back, children across the state are spending more time outdoors. Whether they’re playing in the front yard, riding their bike, or staring at their phones, chances are they’re not paying attention to their surroundings.
That means that the risk of injury – or worse – to children playing outside is genuine, and it’s more important than ever for drivers to slow down and pay close attention to their driving. According to recent data from The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 1 in 5 children killed in car crashes in 2019 were pedestrians or cyclists.
As a father, keeping children in my neighborhood safe is a priority to me. I’ve seen too many injuries suffered by children who lose out on their summertime fun. Their injuries are severe, life-changing, and sometimes even fatal. Add to it the emotional, psychological, and financial drain, and you have the perfect recipe for heartbreak.
Luckily, there are several easy steps that adult drivers can take this summer to help keep children safe.
Tips for driving safely around children
Sharing the road with young pedestrians
Consider the following common-sense solutions to help limit these tragedies:
- Slow down. Obey posted speed limits throughout neighborhoods where children may be riding bikes or playing. Speeding can make it challenging to slow down in time. For extra safety, turn corners slowly and reduce your speed near playgrounds.
- Stay alert, especially during times when children are likely to be outside. Small children are especially unpredictable and hard to see between cars or darting out from trees or bushes on the side of the road.
- Check twice. Before getting into your car, check the space behind it for children. Even if your vehicle has a backup camera, you should always back out slowly and check your mirrors for children.
- Leave room at crosswalks. When you block a crosswalk at a red light or stop sign, you force pedestrians to go around your vehicle and sacrifice their safety.
- Reduce distractions. Taking your eyes off the road for even two seconds can add another 140-150 feet of travel distance. Add that to the football field distance it could take you to stop, and tragedy awaits. To pay full attention, you need to put down that coffee cup, water bottle, and cell phone.
- Expect the unexpected. Keep your eyes on the road and focus on your surroundings. Children may cross the street in the wrong places or run out as they’re playing.
Sharing the road with bikes
Because children and teenagers don’t properly evaluate traffic conditions or traffic flow the way an experienced bicyclist would, they create a unique problem for drivers.
Much like navigating residential areas safely, it’s possible to drive in a way that mitigates bicycle tragedies as well. First and foremost, it’s crucial to remember that bicyclists have a right to the road and that they, too, are trying to stay as safe as possible.
When you share the road with bikes, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Learn biking hand signals. These are the hand and arm signals that cyclists use to communicate with drivers and let them know their next move, such as stopping or turning. These can also communicate turning signals and changing lanes.
- Look for cyclists before you leave your car. Even when stopped, you could injure a cyclist. Before you open the door, check your surroundings and blind spots for approaching bicycles, especially if there’s a bike lane nearby.
- Leave space. When passing a bicyclist going in the same direction, drive slowly and leave at least 3 feet between the two of you.
- Know how to navigate a turn. If a cyclist approaches from the opposite direction while you’re waiting to turn left, the rider has the right of way. Wait for them to pass before you make your turn. The same goes for right turns: If a cyclist is approaching from behind, you should wait for them to pass before turning.
- Stay vigilant. Watch carefully for bikers that might come from driveways or in between parked cars.
By exercising extra care and caution, drivers, children, and parents can safely co-exist and enjoy a fabulous summer.
Chicago Vehicle Accident Attorneys. We Help Victims.
If your child is injured in a vehicle accident this summer as a result of someone’s negligence, your child is entitled to compensation for the injuries.
The Attorneys at Friend, Levinson & Turner are knowledgeable and expert in representing those harmed by the negligence or carelessness of others. Claims for children involved in summertime tragedies are complex and frequently multi-dimensional.
Insurance companies rely on professional adjusters to negotiate and fight accident claims. In order to deal with these professionals, you need a skilled attorney to protect your rights. We know your rights and the applicable laws. We are your advocates. We are experts at negotiating with powerful insurance companies. 50-years of experience counts.
The Attorneys at Friend, Levinson & Turner make the legal process as stress-free as possible. We focus on recovering compensation for you – while you, your child, and your family concentrate on physical and emotional recovery.
If your loved one is injured in a vehicle accident, please call my office or email.
At Friend, Levinson and Turner Law, William Turner Is Here For You.