Some drivers putting kids at risk


Last updated 9/12/2023 at 10:19am

Photo by Bill Bartlett

Families using school crosswalks appreciate drivers' awareness.

According to the Transportation Research Board, more than 100 children are killed every year while walking to and from school. About 25,000 are injured.

With school back in session, local citizens have expressed concern about driving they have witnessed in school areas, particularly on Locust Street near Sisters Elementary School during the afternoon.

Causes of pedestrian accidents in school zones vary widely. It's important to remember that the word "pedestrian" includes more than just people walking. It can also refer to joggers, runners, cyclists, skateboarders, and roller skaters.

These accidents usually occur because of rolling stops or failure to stop, speeding, reckless driving, poor intersection design or maintenance, drunk or distracted driving, or passing a school bus.

The most common causes of these accidents are reckless driving and distracted driving. Drivers often aren't paying attention to the road and may not be aware that they are in a school zone. This may lead to their driving too fast, potentially injuring someone in the process. Distracted driving can also cause accidents.

One local driver reported being passed while she was stopped at the crosswalk across Locust as school was getting out.

Deschutes County Sheriff's deputies regularly patrol the area.

A Minnesota study finds that reduced speeds allow motorists more time to avoid collisions. A motor vehicle traveling at 50 mph requires 424 feet to come to a complete stop, while a vehicle traveling at 25 mph requires only 152 feet.

The same study found that at 40 mph, 85 percent of struck pedestrians died, and at 30 mph, 45 percent died. At 20 mph, there were almost no deaths. School zones require slower mileage simply because traveling at a slower speed prevents fatal accidents.

Fatalities involving texting while driving comprised 9 percent of all fatal crashes nationwide. Seven percent of drivers are using cell phones (including making a phone call) at any given time.

Texting while driving increases by 400 percent a driver's time spent with their eyes off the road.

The use of a cell phone while driving causes an estimated 1.5 million car crashes in the U.S.

Including the cost to people's lives, these crashes were responsible for $129 billion in losses, 15 percent of the overall societal damage caused by motor vehicle crashes.

A total of 47 states have a texting ban (Arizona, Missouri, and Montana don't). Only 16 states have a ban on phone usage while driving and hands-free devices for all drivers.

The State of Oregon's cell phone law requires the use of a hands-free accessory while using a mobile communication device and operating a vehicle. A person under 18 years of age may not use a mobile communication device while operating a vehicle.

Examples of hands-free accessories are: wireless or corded earpieces, headsets, or a car-kit that integrates one's phone to their car stereo via wireless connection. The hands-free accessory must permit the driver to maintain both hands on the steering wheel. The law allows drivers to perform functions of the phone such as accepting or declining calls.


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