Chicago motorists need to watch for buses, children as school begins

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The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes remind motorists that over 400,000 children head back to the city’s 666 schools over the next month.

The Chicago Public School’s first day of classes for most students is September 8th, and Track E students already started this week. Most of the suburban schools start in the coming weeks of August.

The start of the school year puts school buses back on the road, kids at bus stops and crosswalks, school zones where children are likely to be in the roadway and kids walking or bicycling to school.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced last week a $13 million initiative to encourage more children to walk or ride their bikes to school. The federal Safe Routes to School program includes 171 funding projects, from sidewalk repair to equipment for police and crossing guards.

“With Illinois ranked fourth in the nation for childhood obesity rates, providing children with a safe and secure means of walking to school is an important tool to improve the health of our children,” Quinn said.

The program is designed to:

Enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school

Make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation option
Facilitate projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity of primary and middle schools

School Bus Safety

The Illinois State Police have issued a pamphlet for motorists regarding school bus safety.

“The majority of children injured or killed in pupil transportation are injured outside the bus,” state police report. “Most are struck by motorists who fail to stop for the flashing red lights and extended stop arm.”

Motorists who fail to stop for a school bus displaying red warning lights face a mandatory three-month license suspension for a first offense and a one-year mandatory suspension of subequent offenses.

School Zone Safety

A new law makes it illegal to use a cell phone in a school zone unless it is equipped with a hands-free device.

Back-to-School Safety

The federal government also offers back-to-school safety tips for parents, students and educators on topics ranging from playground safety to alcohol and drug abuse.