Budget Cuts sending more Students to School on Foot Increasing Risks for Child Injury in Chicago

As the school year gets underway, we can expect a large number of students to be walking to school this year. More than 40,000 children in the northwest suburban School District U-46 relied on school buses to get them to and from school each day. But more and more of them will be forced to make the journey to school on foot. As a result of drastic budget cuts, $14 million to be exact, all high school students that ride a bus will be required to walk to the nearest elementary school or middle school to catch a bus ride the rest of the way to school, according to ABC 7. Increasing the number of walking students near our roadways increases the risks for Chicago pedestrian accidents.

Our Chicago personal injury attorneys understand that this plan is expected to save more than $1 million for each school year it’s in effect, but hopefully saving school budgets won’t put any child’s life in danger. Although officials of the school district encourage students to either walk together or to carpool, much of their safety relies on motorists in the area.

“When you’re making these changes, it’s very difficult. This was a last minute change because of a last minute action that affected funding,” said U-46 safety coordinator John Heiderscheidt.

To help keep our students safe, talk with your child about the following safety recommendations for walking to school, provided by the National Safety Council:

-Make sure you walk to school in a group.

-Make sure you always use a sidewalk if one is available.

-If there’s no sidewalk for you to use, make sure you always walk facing traffic.

-Make sure you always cross the street at either an intersection or at a street corner.

-Make sure that no child under the age of 10 walks to school without an adult.

-Look both ways to make sure no cars are coming before stepping off a curb to cross a street.

-Continue looking left and right as you cross the street.

-Always walk across the street. Running makes you more likely to trip and fall.

-Never run out from behind a parked car. Oncoming traffic may not be able to see you.

For students who choose to make the journey by bicycle, follow these safety tips:

-Make sure you always wear a helmet when riding your bike to school.

-Never ride in traffic. Again, travelers under the age of 10 should not bike without a responsible adult.

-Make sure that you ride in a single-file line with your friends and in the same direction as traffic.

-Come to a complete stop before you cross the road.

-Wait for a driver to signal to you that it’s okay to cross the street before doing so.

-Get plenty of biking practice so that you’re more confident while riding.

Budget cuts are also effecting school worker salaries, cutting office jobs, reducing health insurance benefits and cutting funding for school supplies.

The district would like to point out that if there isn’t a school within a mile and a half of your student’s home or if there is a hazard then the district will find a way to make a neighborhood stop for them.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian or a bicycling accident, the Chicago injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free consultations to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

U-46 students back to school amid bus controversy, by Linda Yu, ABC 7
More Blog Entries:

Feds delay rule aimed at preventing backover accidents in Chicago, elsewhere, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, April 1, 2011

Tragic Chicago pedestrian accident claims life of toddler, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, March 23, 2011

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