Crossing Guards Face Death and Serious Injury

Crossing guards are hard at work all over the country keeping our children safe as they walk to school and back home. An untold number of kids and parents owe a debt of gratitude to those who put their life on the line every day. However, many of these protectors have been injured or killed while protecting the kids crossing the road.

Tragic Deaths

On December 18, 2018, a 62-year-old crossing guard was struck by a vehicle in a three-car collision at the intersection of Los Angeles Ave and Socrates Ave. The crash happened at 2 pm before students were let out of school at the nearby Arroyo Elementary School. The guard was standing on the sidewalk when one of the three cars that collided jumped the curb and struck the woman.

The area is no stranger to these incidents as just two months prior a 57-year-old man was killed less than a mile away at a crosswalk on Royal Avenue close to Vaquero Drive, near Madera Elementary School. In that case, the crossing guard pushed a woman out of the way of a vehicle but was himself struck by the car. He later died of his injuries.

Life on the Line

Though the number of deaths of crossing guards across the nation is small—around 15 a year—it is high considering the amount of deaths in light of the number of crossing guards across the nation and the short time they are at their post.

But during that time, they create a line of defense against the dangers of street crossings near and around schools across the country. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, in 2005, there were 275 children killed and over 15,000 injured. These numbers would be much greater if these guards weren’t there protecting children from dangerous streets.

Why are Crosswalks so Dangerous?

Most drivers are aware that kid walk to school n the morning and walk home in the afternoon, and that caution is required around schools and crosswalks, why do so many hit kids and crossing guards in those crosswalks? In a majority of the accidents, the driver of the vehicle is at fault. The NTHSA cites certain factors that contribute to accidents at school crosswalks, they are:

  • Distracted driving
    • Texting/cellphone use
    • Eating
    • Putting on makeup
    • shaving
  • Speeding
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Disobeying traffic signs or signals
  • Failing to signal while turning
  • Disregarding weather or traffic conditions

What Can be Done?

According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, crossing guards in California have expressed an increase in poor driving around schools. Not only are speeding and texting on the rise, so is aggressive driving and the abuse of crossing guards.

In once case caught on video, a crossing guard was threatened by a motorist who said he would run him over and shoot him. The driver was apparently frustrated with the crossing guard who motioned him to wait for the crosswalk to be empty before turning across the crosswalk. In the video, you can see children crossing and the driver impatiently attempting to turn while the children were still on the crosswalk.

Experts are contributing the increase of some of this behavior to the increase in traffic congestion on the main thoroughfares which leads to motorists increasing their speed around the schools to make up time lost in the congested areas.

Taking Steps to Reduce Risk

These problems are not limited to California as many counties and cities around the country are taking steps to support their crossing guards and try to reduce bad driving around crosswalks. In 2017, the city council in Akron Ohio gave crossing guards the ability to report bad drivers who can then be ticketed by local police. The program has already greatly reduced illegal school bus passing as bus drivers can turn in drivers who sped by their stopped bus.

In New York, a program that put cameras around school zones was not continued by the legislature. When implemented, speeders around schools would get a $50 ticket in the mail when caught by the camera. A study found that speeding dropped 63 percent within a year, and 80 percent of drivers never got a second ticket. The New York legislature is working on extending the program. Around the country, many states, cities and school districts are considering similar programs aimed at reducing the risk to kids and crossing guards.

What Happens When Crossing Guards are Hit?

To make matters worse, when a crossing guard gets hit, they have a difficult time suing the person who hit them. In California, as in many states, there is a legal doctrine called the firefighter’s rule that prevents a firefighter or a police officer from suing when they are injured while responding to an emergency. The idea is that they assumed the risk by engaging in a situation that is by its nature, dangerous.

When the call goes out, they know the dangers and respond anyway, and the law says that they can’t sue the person who made the call for help. This is so that people aren’t afraid to call the police or the fire department for feat that they could be held responsible for their injuries.

This rule technically doesn’t apply to crossing guards as the courts have limited that rule to first responders like firefighters, police and EMS. However, the assumption of the risk idea can be a defense that a motorist might have if they hit a crossing guard. If accepted by the court, then it would prevent a crossing guard from suing a motorist who hit them while protecting kids in the crosswalk.

If you’ve been injured as a crossing guard, the best thing to do is to get professional advice from someone who knows the law. Call the Law Offices of Steers & Associates at 800 824 5416 or click here to contact us online. We have attorneys with years of experience dealing with every type of motor vehicle accident, and we get results against the insurance companies and their highly-paid lawyers. Call us now to even the playing field and get the compensation you deserve.

Sherman Oaks, CA

Law Offices of Steers & Associates
5900 Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 270
Sherman Oaks, CA 91411
Phone: (800) 824-5416
Mo, Tu, We, Th, Fr: 9:00am - 5:30pm

Los Angeles, CA

Law Offices of Steers & Associates
445 S. Figueroa Street, Suite 2700
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Phone: (800) 824-5416
Mo, Tu, We, Th, Fr: 9:00am - 5:30pm

Lancaster, CA

Law Offices of Steers & Associates
1805 West Avenue K
Lancaster, CA 93534
Phone: (800) 824-5416
Mo, Tu, We, Th, Fr: 9:00am - 5:30pm

Riverside, CA

Law Offices of Steers & Associates
11801 Pierce Street, Suite 200
Riverside, CA 92505
Phone: (800) 824-5416
Mo, Tu, We, Th, Fr: 9:00am - 5:30pm

Long Beach, CA

Law Offices of Steers & Associates
111 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 400
Long Beach, CA 90802
Phone: (800) 824-5416
Mo, Tu, We, Th, Fr: 9:00am - 5:30pm