Back-to-School Safety Tips as Kids Head Back to Class in Bangor, Portland

bicycle accidentStudents are heading back to class, which means it’s time for adults to brush up on their education when it comes to safe driving. Maine bicycle accidents can be unfortunately common, which can lead to serious injuries, particularly if the rider collides with a car.

Bangor School Department has announced schools will open Tuesday Sept. 4. School officials urge parents to start kids on their school sleep schedule now, so they will be properly adjusted for the first day of class. This can also help keep them safe while traveling to and from school. Portland Public Schools will also return to class Sept. 4.

The Bangor School Department also announced a partnership with the Bangor Police Department to put liaison officers in schools to work to ensure proper security and student safety. While parents may worry about bullying, school violence, or the rigors and risks of today’s school athletics, our experienced personal injury lawyers know the commute to and from school is most likely to be dangerous.

Back-to-School Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety

Walking and biking to school present significant risks. Maine bicycle helmet law requires riders under the age of 16 to use a helmet when riding or rollerskating on public roadways.

M.S. Title 29-A §2060 requires motorists making a right turn to do so only if it doesn’t interfere with legal operation of bicyclists, roller skis, or other commuters. The same law also requires bicyclists, scooters, roller skaters and other non-traditional traffic to stop for school buses with red-flashing lights activated, just as is required of motor vehicle traffic.

Title 29-A, Chapter 19 §2056 requires pedestrians to use sidewalks when available. Pedestrians should walk facing oncoming traffic. Pedestrians are not allowed to cross mid-block in areas where intersection crossings are provided and may not cross diagonally. For their part, motorists are required to leave a buffer distance of at least three feet when passing a pedestrian walking in the roadway. Motorists must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks in areas where no traffic-control devices exist. Our car accident lawyers suggest motorists give bicyclists and pedestrians the right-of-way in all cases. A couple extra seconds of travel time is always worth avoiding a serious or fatal accident.

Bus Safety Begins at the Bus Stop

The Maine Department of Education estimates about 80 percent of school children ride the school bus, compared to about 50 percent ridership nationwide. Each year, about 140,000 school children are transported more than 30 million miles on 2,200 school buses.

Maine State law, Title 29-A, §2308 requires motorists to stop for school buses receiving or discharging passengers. Buses travel slower and make frequent stops, which can make for frustrated motorists. This is particularly true as each school year begins. Never pass a stopped school bus with red flashing lights. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is preparing to stop.

The aging and maintenance of the state’s fleet of school buses is another critical safety issue. An investigation by CBS 13 news found about two-thirds of the state’s school buses did not pass state inspection.  However, school transportation accidents are most common when using smaller buses or vans to transport students to after-school events. Earlier this month WMUR Channel 9 news reported four were seriously hurt in an I-95 bus crash in Greenland when a small bus carrying children from a Maine summer camp program went off the south side of the interstate with 11 kids on board.

Nor do the risks end when your teenager starts driving. Statistically, teenagers are at highest risk of being involved in a serious or fatal accident. Talk to your young drivers often about the risks, and clearly outline expectations and consequences when it comes to their behavior behind the wheel.

If you’ve been injured, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources

Bus Safety Orientation for Parents and Kindergarten Students In Maine, National Education Association

More Blog Entries

Design Often at Issue in Storefront Crashes, Parking Lot Injuries, July 23, 2018, Peter Thompson & Associates

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