The new school year is upon us, and this is the first time many students are returning to their classrooms in person since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. Roads and streets around schools across the Valley will be bustling with more traffic as students return to in person learning, which means it’s important now more than ever to stay alert in school zones to keep pedestrians and students safe.
Eliana Troncale is the Injury Prevention Outreach Specialist with the Trauma Program at Community Regional Medical Center. She shares with us what the Trauma Center saw in 2020 in regards to pedestrian versus vehicle incidents, “We did see a small decline in pedestrian versus auto. Now that school’s starting back up, we do anticipate that there may be more pedestrian versus auto, there may be more car crashes.”
Eliana said injuries from pedestrian versus vehicle incidents are some of the top reasons why people end up in the Trauma Center.
“The injuries are not minor, they are broken bones, they are traumatic brain injuries, and these are injuries that take a long time to recover from. And if it’s a traumatic brain injury that can follow a child throughout their life,” stated Eliana.
Sgt. Michael McCray is with the Traffic Enforcement Bureau of the Fresno Police Department. He said, “We are out there at the schools enforcing the rules of the road, enforcing speed, enforcing crosswalk violations, so I think the fact that we are highly visible in these school zones does help prevent a lot of them.”
Sgt. McCray said traffic enforcement officers will be out in full force especially during drop off and pick up hours.
“Please take the extra minutes in the morning to get your child to school on time. You trying to rush to get your child to school is only going to compound the problem. If you are now going through a school zone over 25 miles per hour, it’s going to compound the problem,” said Sgt. McCray.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities among young pedestrians most often occur during the after school hours, and the majority of the fatalities are boys.
“We need to take a lot of precautions, we need to give ourselves enough time, and we really need to teach our children about pedestrian safety specifically,” Eliana added.
Eliana said parents can start by having a discussion with their child on how best to be safe around cars.
“And that means modeling the behavior, as well. So we need to cross the street, we do it at a crosswalk or at an intersection. We need to teach our children to look both ways, three times left, right, left, and then one of the main things is we need to teach our kids to never run across the street, to walk across the street,” commented the Injury Prevention Outreach Specialist.
Both Eliana and Sgt. McCray remind teens and parents to stay off phones and remove earbuds while walking.
Sgt. McCray ended, “Please be aware of your surroundings, please be aware of that roadway that you’re about to step on, to please be aware of the intersection that you’re going to be crossing, make sure you’re in a crosswalk.”