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CHILD SAFETY WALKING TO AND FROM SCHOOL

Author: Attorney, Veronica Valenzuela

Afro handsome boy walks with his backpack in the park after school

CHILD SAFETY WALKING TO AND FROM SCHOOL.  Is your child safe walking to and from school?  I recently had a conversation that was centered on an overprotective mother that limited her child’s outdoor activity and exposure out of fear of all the potential dangers outside of the home – out of fear of everything that could go wrong.  While I agreed that children should be outdoors and active, I also understood the mother’s fears and why she was reluctant to trust that others would be on the lookout for her child and would never endanger her child negligently or willfully.

As I thought about the dangers outside of the home for children, when least expected, I thought about two minor siblings that I previously represented, separately. Both children were hit at a crosswalk on their way to or from school.  Both incidents occurred within about a month from each other.  At the time, the coincidence left me wondering if it was possible that drivers were, in general, less attentive/more reckless in certain parts of town even (in the Austin area) when dealing with the lives and safety of children.   

In light of my recent conversation, I decided to do a little digging.  When it comes to child safety walking to and from school just how often are children being struck by vehicles on their way to and from school, how often are they struck at crosswalks or school crossings and if there is a problem, how do we, as a community, make sure that all children get to and from school safely? 

A quick online search limited to Texas, in the last two years, revealed the following: 

a 12-year old girl on her way to school hit by a car at a crosswalk on January 8, 2024 in Missouri City, Texas  https://abc13.com/missouri-city-12-year-old-girl-hit-by-car-at-crosswalk-quail-valley-middle-school/14302773/ 

a mother and two children hit by a SUV on November 23, 2023 at a school crossing on the way to school in Saginaw, Texas https://www.fox4news.com/news/saginaw-comanche-springs-elementary-crossing

a fourteen-year old student riding his bike to school was hit and killed at a crosswalk on September 28, 2023 in Katy, Texas https://abc13.com/deadly-mason-road-crash-14-year-old-killed-devin-delvalle-cinco-ranch-student/13843578/

a thirteen-year old student  crossing the street at a crosswalk was hit by a school bus driver on March 20, 2023 in Amarillo, Texas https://abc7amarillo.com/news/local/school-bus-hits-teenager-in-crosswalk-plains-blvd-kansas-st-amarillo-texas-amarillo-isd-13-year-old-girl-student-hospital-driver-cited-failure-to-yield-ight-of-way

a six-year old child on his way to school struck by a car at a crosswalk on January 25, 2023 in Odessa, Texas https://www.yourbasin.com/news/pease-elementary-student-hit-by-car-while-walking-through-crosswalk/

Without having to look any further, it is fair to say that we have a problem.  We have a problem despite changes in the law in 2021 when the Lisa Tory Smith Act was enacted and made it a crime to injure or kill crosswalk users.  https://www.kxan.com/investigations/is-texas-law-named-after-mom-killed-in-a-crosswalk-being-enforced/

The overprotective mother, mentioned above, has reason to doubt the safety of her child in the hands of others.  But we can change that and do a better job, as a community, of taking care of our children.  We can slow down, make plenty of time to get to our destination, pay attention and be especially alert and cautious around school zones or areas heavily traveled by children.  

If you, your child or anyone that you know has been hit or gets hit by a vehicle and causes injury, call me at 512-400-4406 for a free consultation.

Written by Veronica Valenzuela, a personal injury attorney with over 20 years of experience.

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