Sending your kids to school safePosted: Updated:
As the school year approaches, it’s important for everyone to enter school zones with caution.
A simple mistake can cost a life or change one drastically.
Steven Crum, a teacher at Nelson Elementary in Haysville, make it his mission to keep kids safe. He also serves as a Kansas State Representative.
“I started doing this when we had a child from Nelson get hit at the crosswalk, which luckily, he's doing fine,” Crum said.
In March 2014, a pickup truck ran a red light at a school crosswalk. The driver hit a six-year-old boy, who was pinned and dragged 30 feet. Initially, that boy was critically hurt, but he is OK today.
“Factors involved were the sun in the east and the driver didn't see the red light in time to stop, Haysville Police Capt. Bruce Powers told us at the time. “The child was doing everything he was supposed to be doing. He was walking to his mother, and he stepped off the curb when he was struck by the vehicle.”
Immediately after the accident, policies were changed, said Liz Hames, a spokesperson for the Haysville School District. A day the boy was hit, they've had a crossing guard in the morning and the afternoon. She said the crossing zone is not on school property, but Nelson Elementary School felt a crossing guard was very important to keeping its students safe. In addition to this, the City of Haysville installed digital speed zone displays to keep drivers informed of their speed as they approach the crossing zone. The lanes coming up to the school zone have also been marked as a "School Zone ahead," Hames said.
CROSSWALK SAFETY & RISKS
Research shows that crosswalk safety should not be overlooked, especially as student starts their school-year routine. According to SafeKids.org:
- 70 percent of child pedestrian deaths are a result of kids walking in an area outside of a designated crosswalk or intersection
- A majority of teen pedestrian deaths occur when it’s dark out
- Sidewalks can reduce pedestrian crashes by 90 percent
- Distracting walking is on the rise, with one in four teenagers walking with headphones or a cell phone in hand, which Crum said is a problem with adult drivers too.
"It's a big concern for me, especially around corners because they may think they're turning right and they think it's clear,” he said. “They start to text and the crosswalk is right there. You just really have to watch that. Be aware all the time because kids don't always watch what they're doing and get distracted by other things. It puts a big onus on the drivers. The drivers need to be careful. They need to be paying attention in high-traffic areas, where there's going to be a lot of kids. Whenever you see a crosswalk, that's probably an area that is going to see a lot of kids.”
For those with little ones walking to school for the first time, Crum encourages parents to go with their child for a while; then, he said to gradually phase yourself out and walk your child only part-way. The goal is to help build your child’s and your confidence with getting to school safely.