Nothing says spring is on its way quite like setting the clocks forward. We often associate daylight savings time with longer, light-filled evenings, but as both a parent and an auto accident and injury lawyer, the first thing I think of this time of year is the number of children headed to school before the sun rises.
Every day this week, while driving to the office, I’ve passed numerous middle school students waiting for the bus in the dark, and I can’t help but feel a sense of concern. While fatal early-morning crashes are not the norm, there is without question a greater chance of something injurious happening to a child in the dark than there is during daylight hours.
Daylight savings time may be unavoidable, but thankfully there are precautions we can take to protect the kids who go to school in the dark these months of the year.
1. Keep kids in sight with bright clothing.
First and foremost, parents should remember that when children are seen, they are safer. Bright, reflective clothes and backpacks help kids stand out to motorists. If your kids ride bikes to school in warmer weather, they should wear high-visibility clothing and use a white headlight and red rear light.
2. Practice pedestrian safety.
Traffic safety goes a long way towards preventing accidents and injuries. Talk to older kids who take the bus by themselves about the importance of safety and make sure they practice the following tips.
- Use crosswalks, which are safer and more visible than either jaywalking or crossing between parked cars.
- If there isn’t a designated sidewalk, walk against traffic so that oncoming cars can see you (and vice versa).
- Remember that drivers aren’t necessarily used to sharing the road with children before daylight. While waiting for the bus, stay at least five feet away from the road.
3. Take extra precaution behind the wheel.
It goes without saying that we as drivers have a responsibility to look out for each other and help kids in our neighborhoods get to school safely. More traffic fatalities happen at night than during the day, and general tips for driving in the dark will help keep us safe during early hours of daylight savings time. Start with the following.
- Always be alert when you’re driving in the dark. Watch carefully for children who may be walking or riding their bikes.
- Drive at a safe speed, especially on unlit or winding roads.
- Keep your headlights on for an hour after sunrise.
- Keep a safe following distance, so that you can react appropriately to things that aren’t as easily seen in the dark.
- Finally, leave the house 10 minutes earlier, so that you’re not racing to your destination.
Getting Help in the Event of an Accident or Injury
My hope is that extra safety measures like the ones I’ve suggested here will prevent avoidable accidents and injuries — not only during daylight savings time, but all throughout the year. If you are in an accident, however, you need to speak with an experienced lawyer.
Contact Darrell Castle & Associates at 901-327-2100 and we’ll set up a free consultation to discuss your options.