West Virginia drivers urged to remember caution as school starts

With the start of the school year, children can be at risk of accidents walking or biking to school. Drivers must be cautious and drive safely.

The start of a new school year can be an exciting time for students in West Virginia, but it can also be dangerous. Many drivers are not yet accustomed to school buses being back on the roads, as well as reduced speed limits in school zones and droves of children walking or riding their bicycles to and from school.

Many factors, ranging from children who do not always obey traffic rules to distracted or tired drivers and changes in the weather, can contribute to bicycle or pedestrian accidents during the school year. It is vital that drivers be aware of the dangers and how to drive safely so children are less at risk of being injured or killed.

Nitro teenager hit by a car near his bus stop

An accident that occurred last January highlights the danger for schoolchildren, as well as how quickly it can occur. WSAZ 3 News reported that in Nitro, West Virginia, a 14-year-old boy was struck by a car while crossing the street to get to his bus stop. Fortunately, he received moderate injuries and was expected to recover.

The weather is still warm and the mornings are bright at the beginning of the school year, which may give many parents and children a false sense of security. All too soon, mornings will become darker, and roads will often be icy before the sun is up, adding to the dangers during the morning hike to the bus stop or school grounds. The hours before and after school also coincide with rush hour traffic for people coming and going from work. Drivers who may be sleepy first thing in the morning, running late to work or anxious to get home may not notice a child stepping into the crosswalk or running to catch the bus.

Awareness and courtesy are important to consider

Drivers should remember the following points once school has started:

· Always stop for a bus that has its safety arm extended or caution lights on.

· Be aware that children may not obey traffic rules and can unexpectedly dart into the street.

· Be extra cautious in adverse weather or when the sun's glare reduces visibility.

In 2016, 24 pedestrians in West Virginia were killed by being struck by vehicles, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This number was higher than the previous two years and may have included schoolchildren - a sobering reminder for drivers to remember their responsibility to keep pedestrians safe. If a child was injured on the way to or from school by a negligent driver, the parents may wish to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in West Virginia about possible compensation.