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A driver's duty changes when children are near

Anyone who has had to drive near a school at the time of release understands the crunch of traffic that happens when a wave of children begins crossing a road. Though many Washington school districts take care to employ safety guards and protect kids with crosswalks, close calls happen when drivers fail to slow down, note the presence of children, and exercise heightened care when around them. In fact, drivers are generally expected to raise their duty of care when they are in the vicinity of kids.

This is because children are often the victims of auto-pedestrian accidents. Children become victims of these preventable tragedies for many reasons, such as the fact that their small statures that make them harder for drivers to see. Kids also can make poor decisions with regard to their safety and may inadvertently put themselves in harm's way by running into roads when their paths may be crossed by cars.

Since children, particularly young children, cannot be trusted to make safe choices near roads, drivers must act carefully when they operate their vehicles in places where children are commonly located. These locations can include but are not limited to school zones, parks, swimming pools and other places of recreation.

Drivers who must drive near children should follow posted speed limits and other safety signage. They should, as always, operate free from distractions so that they do not miss a child who is in the roadway in front of them. Drivers who fail to take precautions are dangers to children, and when accidents occur the responsible drivers can be held legally liable for the damages and harm that their actions cause.

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