Safe Driving During the School Year

Safe Driving During The School Year

A tragedy struck the Bay area the morning of Tuesday, October 6th morning when a 17 year old girl by the name of Alexis Miranda lost her life after being struck and killed by a driver as she made her way to school. The teen, a student of Chamberlain High School, was struck about two blocks west of the N. Boulevard intersection with Busch Boulevard. Her grandmother had been driving her to school early that morning when traffic began to slow to a halt. When it became evident traffic was not going to clear up any time soon, the grandmother let Miranda and her friends out of the car so that they could walk the remainder of the path to school. That is when Belovedofgod Chiza Ndegwa, driving in the turn lane of the same road, collided with Miranda.

There is still no information available relating to how fast Ndegwa was driving, and the investigating officers did not assign fault at the scene of the accident. In a situation such as this, it seems that both parties are at fault: Miranda for exiting her vehicle in the middle of a crowded highway, and Ndegwa for going too fast for conditions and failing to be aware of his surroundings. Regardless of the assessment of fault in this case, there are important lessons to be learned for drivers and pedestrians; students and parents.
Parents should talk to their children, regardless of age, about commuting safely to and from school. In the age of social media, students are often distracted by cell phones, other electronic devices – even neighborhood friends who might carpool or walk to school with them. As an added pressure, the threats of tardy referrals or other reprimand from their teachers often encourages students to speed to school, weave through traffic, or dart across busy intersections. Make sure your student knows that the risk of being injured in an auto-related accident far outweighs the risk of getting demerit on their high school record, and that their safety comes first. Remind them that they should only be crossing streets at marked intersections; and looking left, right, and left again before crossing the street. Cell phones should be turned off or placed somewhere out of reach so that the temptation of distracted driving is removed.

Similarly, drivers making their morning commute to work need to be conscious of the presence of student-drivers on the road. They should recognize that their timeliness to work takes a back seat to the safety of the most cherished members of our society: our children. It is important to recognize that even though you may not be driving in a marked “school zone”, there may be student pedestrians or student drivers around you who are making their own morning commute; and that your speed and tentativeness should reflect that.

Dane Heptner, an attorney at Perenich Caulfield Avril & Noyes, had an opportunity to talk about safe driving to a Chamberlain High School class for last year’s Law Week. He also makes a commitment to speak to Clearwater High School and Palm Harbor University High School each year about the same subject. He hopes that parents for these schools will join him in the effort of making students more aware of the dangers the roads present, in hopes that we can prevent more tragedies such as the one suffered by the Miranda family.

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