Three North Carolina teens have been hit while crossing streets near their Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in a two-week period. On March 13, 2012, a Garinger High School teen was struck while crossing Eastway Drive. She tragically died from her injuries the next morning. That same day, a West Charlotte High School student suffered serious injuries when a car ran into her. The next week, a 15-year-old was hit on Matthews-Mint Hill Road while walking home from Butler High School.
The common factors in each pedestrian accidents is that each victim failed to use a crosswalk. What can North Carolina residents do to keep such accidents?
First, parents and teachers need to stress to children of all ages the importance of using designated crosswalks and crossing only when they have a green light or walk signal. Drivers are most likely to watch for pedestrians at crosswalks and the corners of intersections.
Kids also need to be reminded to pay attention to traffic when crossing streets. Being distracted by cellphones or MP3 players can put them in danger. Last, when possible, children and teenagers should stick to less-traveled roads and intersections controlled by traffic lights.
As a driver, if you are near a school and it is at the beginning or end of a school day, pay extra attention while driving and look for kids who may be crossing the street, even if there isn’t a crosswalk. Regardless of whether they are crossing legally or not, it would be horrible to cause a car accident that resulted in injury or death to anyone.
If you feel a particular road is hazardous for pedestrians and there is a large volume of people trying to cross where a crosswalk doesn’t exist, talk to your local government official or police department about having a traffic study done. While these recent accidents have most likely prompted investigations into these three locations, taking a proactive approach may lead to changes being made that make other North Carolina roads safer for teens and all other pedestrians before another person is injured or killed.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.