Back to School Safety

1Oct
School is back in session, and millions of Americans must remind themselves to carefully observe traffic laws, speed reductions, and yield signage when in school zones. Yet the greatest risk to schoolchildren might not necessarily be speeding or failing to obey signage. The greatest risk to schoolchildren is almost certainly distracted driving. What is Distracted […]

School is back in session, and millions of Americans must remind themselves to carefully observe traffic laws, speed reductions, and yield signage when in school zones. Yet the greatest risk to schoolchildren might not necessarily be speeding or failing to obey signage. The greatest risk to schoolchildren is almost certainly distracted driving.

What is Distracted Driving?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as such:[1]

 

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment, or navigation system.”

 

The NHTSA goes on to outline how using a cell phone, either by texting or talking on the phone, creates an enormous risk for death and injury, especially in school zones. In 2020, the NHTSA reported that 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Distracted Driving in School Zones

Perhaps the greatest safety risk during the back-to-school season is not any single driving error but the numerous driving errors that can come from distracted driving. To combat this risk, the state of Florida adopted the 2019 Wireless Communications While Driving Law, which states:[2]

 

A person may not operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in a designated school crossing, school zone, or work zone area.”

 

Florida’s Put It Down: Focus on Driving campaign sought to raise awareness of the rising problem of people driving distracted in the state. According to their data:[3]

 

  • 350 driving fatalities occurred due to distracted driving in Florida in 2021.

 

  • 2,756 injuries occurred due to distracted driving in Florida in the same year.

 

  • A total of 56,594 distracted driving crashes occurred in 2021 across Florida.

 

  • In 2020, Pinellas County experienced 1,757 distracted driving crashes, Pasco County had 2,295 crashes, and Hernando County had 345 crashes. Hillsborough County recorded a shocking 4,094 distracted driving crashes in 2020.

 

  • Florida’s death toll of 350 distracted driving fatalities in 2021 is the highest number recorded in at least six years.

 

School zones (where pedestrian traffic is high) make distracted driving much more dangerous. Add the factor of a high concentration of young children who may not be as aware of traffic, and the risk for an accident is even greater.

The Best Back-to-School Safety Tip

The best back-to-school safety tip is to be aware of distracted driving, commit to driving distraction-free, and raise awareness of the risk of distracted driving in school zones.

 

If in the unfortunate event that an accident does occur and you or a loved one are the victim of a distracted driving incident, please call Magazine Law Group at 727-499-9900.

 

Sources:

 

[1] NHTSA. “Distracted Driving.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2022. nhtsa.gov

 

[2] FLHSMV. “Put It Down: Focus on Driving.” Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 2022. flhsmv.gov

 

[3] Online Sunshine. “The 2022 Florida Statutes.” Florida Legislature, 2022. leg.state.fl.us