School Zone Car Accidents

Car Accidents in School Zones: Legal Responsibilities and Safety Precautions

School zones are often chaotic and full of stop-and-go traffic, especially immediately before and immediately after school. Children aren’t known for their great judgment, and it’s not uncommon to see them run out in front of vehicles in order to get to their parents or follow a friend. That’s why many states, including Connecticut, have laws in place to protect kids from reckless drivers.

If your child has been injured by a careless driver, you could be entitled to compensation. Learn more now by calling The Dodd Law Firm at 203-272-1883.

Connecticut School Zone Laws

Many of the laws drawn up to keep schoolchildren safe focus on safe driving around buses. The Connecticut Department of Transportation indicates that this is a top priority for the state, as over 330,000 students rely on the bus to transport them to school and home safely. When a bus stops and flashes its red lights, the driver may not pass it. This is the case both for vehicles behind the bus and those approaching the bus from the opposite direction. 

Drivers must stop at least ten feet away from the bus while the red lights are flashing. There is an exception—if there is a median or other physical barrier between the bus and oncoming traffic in other lanes, vehicles traveling in the opposite direction do not need to stop.

The state can designate roads next to or near schools as school zones. The speed limit in school zones is generally 25 MPH. In these areas, the penalty for a moving violation will be twice what it would be in a non-school zone. For example, if you get a $142 speeding ticket in a school zone, you will actually have to pay $284. Anyone who passes a school bus with its flashing lights on and stop sign out will incur a $450 fine on the first offense. Subsequent offenses can be $500 to $1,000.

Safety Precautions for Drivers

As a driver, making a few changes to your driving routines and habits can help you keep students safe. Basic safety precautions include:

  • Adjusting your commute: Find out when school starts for the year so you can change your commute as needed. If your route takes you through a school zone, plan on leaving 10 to 15 minutes early to account for extra traffic.
  • Following the speed limit: Not only will this help you avoid a ticket that could cost you hundreds of dollars, but it can also prevent car accidents.
  • Being extra cautious of children walking out from between vehicles: The streets around a school are often full of parked cars around the end of the school day. Kids may walk between these vehicles to cross the street, and if they go without checking, an accident is likely. Know that children can be unpredictable and adjust your driving accordingly.
  • Watching for children walking or on their bikes: Children walking or biking home are at a greater risk of injury. Leave them plenty of space and be prepared for them to cross the road even when they do not have the right of way.
  • Avoiding distractions: Distracted driving is always dangerous, but it’s even more hazardous when you’re around unpredictable kids who are excited to get out of school for the day. Stay alert at all times.

Legal Consequences of School Zone Accidents

If you are ticketed for speeding in a school zone or failing to stop for a bus, you could be forced to pay $450 or more for your citation. If you cause an accident because of reckless or unsafe driving, you could also face criminal charges that cost additional money and may even lead to jail time.

Additionally, you may be at risk for a personal injury lawsuit if you hurt someone in a crash. While most claims settle within the limits of a driver’s insurance policy, drivers can be held liable for any damages in excess of their policy. Furthermore, even if your insurance company does take care of the victim’s settlement, you can expect your insurance rates to take a significant hike.

Injured in a Crash? Call The Dodd Law Firm Today

If you or your child have been injured in a school zone accident, it’s time to get the legal support you deserve. Call The Dodd Law Firm at 203-272-1883 or contact us online to schedule a consultation now.

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