Though this year might look different than any other first day of school for our kiddos, I'm going to take the opportunity to remind all of us (myself included) to slow down—especially during the morning and afternoon hours. Many of our kids are walking to school or taking the bus for the first time in a year and a half. Some are nervous, but all of them are children.
More People Have Died Since the Pandemic
I don't need to cite studies to explain that children are often carefree and less attentive than they should be. That's common knowledge among any parent or adult. But did you know that since COVID-19, even though Americans drove less in 2020 due to the pandemic, more people died in traffic crashes—a 7.2% increase occurred between 2019 and 2020 despite a 13.2% decrease in mileage driven. The principal reasons for these increased deaths are impaired driving, speeding, and failure to wear a seat belt.
Now is the time to check ourselves.
Obey the Speed Limit
We need to slow down. Obey the speed limit, especially in school zones and residential areas. Pay attention and drive defensively. We need to protect our kids.
Dr. Steven Cliff, the Acting Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has appropriately stated that “loss of life is unacceptable on any of our nation's roadways and everyone has a role to play in ensuring that they are safe.” We owe that responsibility to our children.
Unless otherwise marked, the following speed limits apply:
- School zones and playgrounds – 20 mph
- Unposted city/town roads in Vancouver – 25 mph
- Unposted county roads in Clark County – 50 mph
- Unposted on all state Highways – 60 mph
These are, of course, maximum speed limits and should be reduced as weather or other conditions warrant. For example, just because you can go 25 mph through a neighborhood, doesn't mean you should try to navigate snowy or icy roadways at 25 mph. Use common sense and reason.
I Have Seen Too Many School Related Accidents
Unfortunately, I've represented children whose lives were forever changed because they were struck by a vehicle going to or coming home from school. I've represented families of children who died while waiting for the school bus. I can tell you the pain of everyone involved in each of these cases is unmanageable. The grief is immeasurable. The loss incalculable.
As I write this post, I'm aware it might sound preachy and like a high school lecture. I don't mean for it too. I wish it didn't have to be so. But this issue is one I hope we can all take to heart, share with our friends and family, and recognize that we can do better. Each of us can do better.