School has only just begun, but already there have been at least two crashes in Louisiana involving school-related travel — one resulting in the death of a driver.
These crashes should serve as a reminder to all of us of the need for additional caution as we drive through traffic in early-morning and midafternoon hours, when schooltime traffic peaks.
More motorists on the roadways during school travel times leads to a greater chance of crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 1,344 people of all ages killed in school-transportation-related crashes in the U.S. in the 10 years from 2004 to 2013 — an average of 134 fatalities per year.
Among those killed in that decade were 327 school-age children: 54 were occupants of school-transportation vehicles, 147 were occupants of other vehicles, 116 were pedestrians, nine were pedalcyclists and one was another “nonoccupant.”
Not surprisingly, national data further showed more school-age pedestrians were killed from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. than any other hours of the day.
You don’t want to be the cause of a crash that takes a life, particularly the life of an innocent child.
Slow down during school drive time, particularly in school zones. Pay attention to posted speed limits and times.
Focus your attention on your driving, so you can be alert to sudden stops and children darting into your path.
Put away your cellphone. A new Louisiana law makes it illegal to use handheld wireless communication in school zones during posted hours.
Share the road with school buses. Louisiana law requires motorists to stop at least 30 feet from a school bus that has stopped to load or unload children. Motorists are required to stop whether approaching a bus from the opposite direction or traveling behind it. They are not required to stop when a school bus is stopped in opposite lanes on a roadway separated by a ditch, grassy median, elevated concrete barrier or similar obstacle. A school bus that has stopped to unload or pick up passengers will extend its stop arm and activate its flashing red lights.
For tips on driving during schooltime, visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/buses/kidsschool bus_en.html.
Lt. Col. John LeBlanc
executive director, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission