As the long hot days of summer are nearing their end, and students prepare to return to school, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) declares August as Child Safety Awareness Month and is sending its message to the Florida Department of Children and Families, Department of Education, Department of Transportation, Florida Sheriffs Association, and the Florida Police Chiefs Association with the goal of reducing tragic car accidents to our vulnerable children.
It is of growing concern to Florida officials the number of children injured or killed in car crashes has risen each year from 2013 on. In 2018 alone, 130,055 children age 17 and under were involved in a crash in Florida, resulting in 155 deaths and 1,438 serious bodily injuries. Of these, 3,177 school bus crashes were involved.
The question that follows these disturbing statistics is how can we reduce the frequency children are injured in car accidents? Some of the ways we can reduce injuries to children from car accidents in Florida is for motorists to stop for school busses, secure their children in car seats or seat belts, obey posted speed limits in school zones, remain attentive to child pedestrians who are below the driver’s line of site, be on the lookout for bicycle riders who may enter the roadway from driveways or sidewalks as well as crossing guards who are in the street.
In addition, drivers should not use wireless handheld communication device while driving in a designated school crossing, school zone, or active work zone area, which is prohibited by Florida’s Wireless Communications While Driving Law Act. It is also advisable to refrain from talking on a hands-free device while in these areas because of the potential for distracting one’s attention from foot traffic. Finally, whether driving to and from school or on errands, or even parked in one’s driveway, parents should remember never to leave a child unattended in a hot automobile for fear of suffocation. Children age 12 and under should be seated in the back seat to avoid being injured by an airbag deploying in the event of a crash. Parents needing assistance in installing car seats or booster seats are welcome to visit a Florida Highway Patrol station. For a list of Florida locations, please refer to https://www.flhsmv.gov/florida-highway-patrol/contact-fhp/fhp-station-locations.
Florida Child Safety Awareness Month coincides with national Traffic Awareness Month, also celebrated in August. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that with over one billion cars in use throughout the world, there are over one million people involved in traffic accidents every year. This is believed to be a conservative number, because it includes only reported cases. Most of these accidents are caused by drivers going over the speed limit or distracted by cell phones and other items claiming their attention. Again, to decrease accidents, drivers should seriously pay attention to the road including school zones, obey traffic safety rules, commit to traffic safety and awareness, where safety belts and use child restraints, avoid distractions from technology and utilize hands free devices.
I salute the dedicated Florida highway and school officials who are committed to child safety during the school year and urge all drivers to be alert to child safety. If, despite all precautions, you or a loved one is injured by a careless driver, whether as a pedestrian, bicyclist, vehicle passenger or otherwise, do not hesitate to call The Datny Law Firm. You will speak directly with a car accident lawyer David B. Datny, Esq. at 561-221-7474 on how we can help you recover for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. We proudly represent injured clients, including children, throughout Florida from Key West to Boca to Orlando and all points in between.