SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – It’s back to school season. Can you believe it?
On Thursday, the Provo School District began its classes. Many other districts will start on Monday.
Most of the students ABC4 News spoke to are excited to get back to class and meet new and old friends.
Before they get there, drivers will want to take it slow around street corners and keep an eye out for kids on sidewalks who may stumble into the street.
One local mother Cammie Moran says, “Just be cautious. I mean, you know, kids are obviously talking to each other and not paying attention all the time. Just slow down!”
School-aged pedestrians hit by vehicles:
In 2018, there were 235 crashes; 40 of those had serious injuries, and three school-aged minors died by being hit by a vehicle, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.
In 2017, there were 231 crashes. Of those 35 of them were serious, but that year 16 school-aged minors died.
Sergeant Nisha King with the Provo Police Department says, “Younger children may not be necessarily looking at traffic in school zones or crossing the street in general. They may run out into traffic unknowingly. That’s why we are asking drivers to be extra cautious the first couple weeks of school.”
Salt Lake City’s Program Director of Compliance David Tola says it’s important for parents to teach children how to cross the street at designated crosswalks.
“Teach your children how to look left, right, and left again before going across the street,” he says. “Look for crossing guards and listen to them on how to cross the street.”
Crossing guards are experts at crossing the street. Tola tells ABC4 News Salt Lake City crossing guards will teach students how to look for drivers not paying attention who may be distracted.
“With technology and cars, and cellphones and drivers looking at their cellphones, we urge drivers that when you drive near schools to pay attention, slow down. It only takes 10 seconds off your commute but it can be a life that you are saving,” he adds.
Aldo Vazquez with AAA adds, “Drivers should scan between parked cars and other objects for signs that children could dart into the road.”
School Bus-Involved Crashes
Recently school bus involved crashes are down according to UDOT’s Safety Programs Engineer Jeff Lewis.
In 2017, the state saw 215 crashes. A year later. there were 182 school bus crashes.
Lewis says so far this year there have been 139 bus crashes.
Lewis says the three routes with the highest number of school bus-involved crashes during the 2015-2019 period are:
- US-89 (Includes State St in SL County but runs from Arizona border to Idaho border) with 31 crashes
- I-15 with 29 crashes
- SR-68 (Redwood Rd) with 21 crashes
What cities see most school bus crashes?
From 2015 through 2019, Lewis tells ABC4 New’s Jason Nguyen, “There have been 26 school bus-involved crashes where a child occupant of the school bus was injured.”
“Anytime the lights are flashing yellow you should slow down when the red lights are flashing you cannot pass the school bus,” says Salt Lake City Police Sergeant Brandon Sheer. “When the lights are flashing it the same as a crosswalk in front of the bus. It gives children the right of way to cross the road.”
Salt Lake City tops the list for most school bus-involved crashes.
UDOT provided the number of school bus-involved crashes from the last five years to ABC4 News which include:
- Salt Lake City – with 68 crashes
- West Jordan – with 47 crashes
- Draper – 38 with crashes
- Sandy – 37 with crashes
- West Valley City – 35 with crashes
“From 2015 through 2019,” Lewis adds, “there were five school bus-involved crashes where a child pedestrian or child bicyclist was struck by a school bus.”
To keep children safe, state officials are asking folks to slow down over the next couple weeks and to keep an eye out for children on sidewalks and at intersections where kids may be crossing the street.