Back-To-School Driving Tips, Part 2: Young Pedestrians & Bicyclists

Children in the early years of schooling – nursery school, kindergarten, first and second grades – are the most prone to being struck by a motor vehicle. According to research by the National Safety Council, most children who are struck and killed by a car or a school bus are pedestrians between the ages of 4 to 7.

Thus, motorists must always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way. Of course, the same applies to young bicyclists. Youngsters on foot and on a bicycle often create special challenges for drivers because children lack the ability to determine traffic conditions properly and how to interact with such conditions safely.

Here are some back to school safety tips for dealing with and addressing the safety of young pedestrians and bicyclists.

  • Do not block a crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a right turn. This will cause pedestrians to leave the crosswalk and potentially move in the path of moving traffic
  • When a school zone’s overhead flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians using the crosswalk
  • Stop when a school patrol officer or crossing guard holds up a stop sign
  • Take extraordinary care to detect the presence of children in school zones, playgrounds, parks, and residential areas
  • Do not honk at children who are pedestrians, even with the right of way
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians

On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles. One of the major problems with bikes and motorcycles is that they are difficult for other motorists to see on the road.

  • Always use your turn signals, even if a car is not approaching, because a bicycle or pedestrian may be present and not within the line of sight
  • When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between car and bicycle
  • When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the bicycle to pass. The most common cause of a collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist
  • When turning right and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on the right, permit the rider to advance through the intersection first
  • Be vigilant for young cyclists who have a tendency to turn in front of a vehicle without looking or signaling
  • Watch for bikes exiting driveways or behind parked cars
  • Check side mirrors before opening the driver and passenger doors

By exercising the necessary care and caution, motorists, young drivers, and young pedestrians may co-exist safely in school zones. At Heintz & Becker, there are no fees or costs for our representation unless we get results. To discuss your case with a Sarasota personal injury attorney, call us at 941-748-2916, or contact us by e-mail. If you are cannot come to us, we can come to you. We have offices in Sarasota and Bradenton to serve you.

Back-To-School Driving Tips, Part 2: Young Pedestrians & Bicyclists
Back-To-School Driving Tips, Part 1: School Buses & School Zones

September is synonymous with school opening. While the malls may be a little less crowded, the roads are certainly more congested with parents ushering their kids to and from school. And then there is the increase in bicycle and pedestrian traffic. With all this chaos, it pays to be calm, cool and collected. It also pays to remember some back to school safety tips.

  • First and foremost, remain alert since children are unpredictable and often assume risks and ignore dangerous hazards.
  • Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods.
  • When school is in session, drive slowly and increase your level of attention in the cluster of hours before and after school.
  • Stop far enough behind a bus to allow children ample area to safely enter and exit the bus. The area immediately around a school bus is prone to having young pedestrians in its vicinity. Thus, the area approximately ten (10) feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children.  
  • Never pass a school bus from either direction if you’re on an undivided road, and the bus is stopped to load or unload children. A friendly reminder: Each of the 50 states makes it illegal to pass a stopped school bus loading or unloading children.
  • When driving behind a school bus, allow a greater following distance than you would normally, such as when driving behind a car. This will provide more time to stop once the school bus starts flashing its yellow lights to indicate it is coming to a stop. If the yellow or red lights of a bus are flashing and its stop arm is extended, traffic must come to a complete stop.
  • Know the rules for getting your kids to and from school. Most schools have specific procedures for picking up and dropping off students. Ignorance of these procedures may not only be disruptive and cause traffic problems but may also be dangerous to children.
  • Don’t double park since it blocks other children and vehicles from being visible and may cause traffic problems
  • Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school
  • Use carpools when possible to reduce the vehicle traffic at the school

The attorneys at Heintz & Becker — Steven E. Heintz, David S. Becker, Danielle Lindauer, and Eric D. Bruce — all have perfect 10.0 ratings on AVVO, the top legal review site. In addition, Steven E. Heintz and David S. Becker have perfect 5.0 AV peer review ratings through Martindale-Hubbell, among other honors and awards. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our distinguished attorneys, call 941-748-2916. You may also contact us online. Our website is available in both English and Spanish. We have offices conveniently located in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida. Clients pay no fees or costs unless we win!

Back-To-School Driving Tips, Part 1: School Buses & School Zones
Summer Activities with the Kids: Five Fun and Free Ideas

No matter what ages your children are, summer can be the best of times for families. It can also be a hectic time for you as a parent trying to entertain everyone, tiring out the little ones so they will sleep well at night (and allow you to also). While Florida is renowned for Disney World, and the steep price tag that goes with it, the Sunshine State is also chock full of free activities to do all summer, and year-round too, thanks to the ongoing tropical weather. And while you may start to feel a bit overwhelmed at times, especially after the words ‘I’m bored’ are ringing in your ears for a few weeks, keep these simple activities in mind when you begin planning out activities for the day:

  1. Go to the beach! This is one of the most enjoyable activities in Florida, for many; in fact, you could have a mellow day at home with the little ones and then head out in the late afternoon when the weather is cooling down, have a light supper on the beach, and watch a glorious sunset. If you are really feeling ambitious, you could also hit the pool on the way back to cool off further and get in another cool swim. No matter what age children are involved, however, be mindful of swimming capabilities to avoid accidents.
  2. Camp out – while there could be some expenses involved in getting together supplies if you don’t already have them, this is a great way to enjoy family time away from the hustle and bustle of regular life. Another fun idea is to camp right in your backyard—set up the tent, grill dinner, make s’mores for dessert, and practice for the real thing later. No matter the location, you can enjoy stargazing, and maybe even throw in some basic astronomy or information about constellations for the kids to focus on.
  3. Fishing and boating – heading out on to the water for the day allows for an excellent family day, with younger kids learning how to reel in the catch of the day, along with being mindful of boating safety. Make sure flotation devices are available for everyone, and that a comprehensive checklist is followed before you take off—including a float plan given to someone on land so they know where you were planning to go.
  4. Make things – create fun popsicle, smoothie, or milkshake recipes. Draw murals with outside chalk in the driveway. Build a birdhouse.
  5. Set up an outdoor stand – sell lemonade, snacks, or crafts. Have a yard sale so that kids can clear out toys or items they no longer use, along with household items you may need to divest yourself of.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a boating accident due to the negligence of another operator, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Bicycling Safety: Prevent Your Child from Riding at Night

Kids and bicycles go together like peanut butter and jelly, as we all know. And for many adults too, their bicycle is a constant attachment and sometimes even an extremely economical form of transportation. Healthy exercises like bicycling are often passed down from parents to their children, encouraging the enjoyment of family time or solo exercise in the fresh air and the outdoors—as opposed to sitting inside staring at a tablet, the TV, or phone screen—along with building strong muscle and bone, and completing a good cardio and core work out every time.

Of course, most children are not concerned about the safety or health aspects of riding a bike. They usually have some place to go! And whether that is to school or a friend’s house, they may not be considering elements like time of day, weather, or other logistics that could make it dangerous to travel. It is highly recommended that you do not allow your child to ride their bicycle at night, but the true issue is in not allowing them to ride in the dark, which could apply to early rides to school also. This harkens back to the most important safety issue, which is visibility for motorists and others, and if it is dark, obviously your child is not going to be seen very easily (despite possible reflective gear and lights). Even during the day, bright clothing should be worn whenever possible—along with a bicycle helmet and recommended elbow and knee pads too.

Because bicycling offers so many health benefits, most of us are willing to overlook many safety issues that must be considered, and especially in Florida where bicyclist deaths continue to increase. Recent news shows that Florida is a dangerous place to ride:

“Each year about 2 percent of deaths in motor vehicle crashes are bicyclists. Although child bicyclist deaths have declined over the years, deaths among bicyclists age 20 and older have tripled since 1975,” states AAA data. “Florida leads the nation in bicycle fatalities. The latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows 783 bicyclists were killed in the U.S. in 2017; 125 (16%) were in Florida.”

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycling accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

 

Older Kids and Boating: When Are They Ready to Take the Helm?

Operating a boat in Florida is frequently an activity (and a skill) that is handed from parents to children, and a process that may be seamless for many kids and young adults as they have been on the water since they were babies. This is often the case around the coasts and waterways of the United States—and the world—as boats are very common and sometimes considered a more casual form of transportation; after all, in some cases (enviable to many) it is very easy to head down to the dock, hop into the boat, and take off. It is, however, critical to understand the laws in your state before allowing your child to do so. In Florida, kids must be at least 14 before they can drive a boat. If they are ages 14 to 16, they may operate a vessel alone if they have completed an approved boating course or if they are traveling with an adult over the age of 18. If traveling alone, they should carry a copy of their ID card/certification on board.

While it is important for all ages to take safety measures into account first and foremost, younger boaters may not be as acclimated, depending on the vessel they are operating, And they should always know where lifejackets and flotation devices are stowed, along with instructions on how to operate a radio, and other lifesaving devices like the airhorn and flares. If heading out alone, they should always create a float plan to leave behind with a friend or family member who is staying on land that day. Younger boaters should create or be provided with a safety/supply checklist to use every time before going out, reminding them to check the following:

  • Fuel and oil levels
  • Anchor
  • Battery
  • Bilge pump
  • Fire extinguisher, air horn, EPIRB
  • Water supply
  • Tool and first-aid kits
  • Life vests

New boaters, as well as captains of all ages, should always be in the habit of checking the weather before going out and should be skilled in handling choppy waves in the case of a squall popping up—especially in Florida, where that is a common occurrence. Younger boaters should also be extremely aware of the dangers involved in boating while under the influence, along with realizing that there can be legal repercussions just like driving while impaired.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a boating accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Young Bicyclists: Does Your Child Understand Road Signs?

Chances are, if your child is learning how to ride a bicycle, you are their source for Biking 101. And this sporty outdoor education may begin at an early age; in fact, you may even be carting them around with you in a protective trailer as a baby or in a seat behind you when they are toddlers. Riding a bike is not only a great group activity, but it begins training your child who may commute back and forth to school independently one day.

In the beginning, bicycling together as a family is a great way to promote togetherness—what better way could there be to enjoy a Saturday morning? Riding a bicycle also brings on a host of health benefits to include building strong muscles and bones, promoting good cardio exercise, burning calories, and getting an overall good work out. Biking within the family is a great exercise, but it’s also a valuable way for kids to build friendships as they ride their bikes together, and they may often employ a buddy system for traveling back and forth to school later.

While your child may start riding a bike at a very young age, they will require supervision until they are old enough to understand the basics of traffic, including all the same rules you must follow, and road signs too. This education begins for small children as they learn to recognize the stop sign. They must also understand the yield sign, railroad crossing signs, road construction, crossing zones, construction zones, and more. Although you can point these signs out to your child while biking (along with quizzing them along the way too), you may want to go online or procure a driver’s education booklet for added learning.

Along with understanding the mechanics and safety rules for traffic, kids should also be completely equipped with protective gear for riding. The priority should be a helmet, so your child can avoid concussion or traumatic brain injury, and both elbow and kneepads are highly recommended (if you can get your child to agree to wear them). The bike should be well-maintained, with the tires checked regularly, a working bell or a horn, and lights if you are concerned that your child may be riding at dusk or later.

Always remember that visibility is a huge issue for bicyclists, and especially the younger riders. Reflectors are extremely helpful too and can be attached not only to the bike but also to the child’s shoes, helmet, and even clothing. Speak to your child frankly about what to do if they are involved in an accident, and always make sure they have your phone number memorized in case of an emergency.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Parents: Brush Up on Traffic Laws to Teach Your Children Bicycle Safety

Bicycling: what could be better than enjoying the fresh air together as a family? Heading out to get some exercise on two wheels is usually a highly recommended activity whether as a solitary venture, or whether you branch out into a group or travel with your partner and children. Although you probably often see families on the road—and even parents biking with babies being towed behind in little buggies—do not be fooled. There has usually been great thought and attention to safety ahead of time.

Florida has also been noted (unfortunately) for increased fatalities, to the point of being referred to as a ‘killing field’ for bicyclists in recent years. On the flip side, in the right environment, bicycling can be phenomenal for your health, helping to build muscle and bone, promoting better heart and lung health, and burning enormous amounts of calories. For the younger riders, though there is usually a period of time before the training wheels come off, and they must be duly educated regarding traffic rules; in fact, one of the interesting parts of learning to bicycle is that you must know as much about riding in traffic as an experienced adult driver. You may find your child asking questions about some signs and rules that you don’t think about much—and it may even be helpful to get a book or video about understanding what it means to become the operator of a ‘vehicle,’ which you technically are when you ride a bike.

If your child is going to be biking to school unsupervised, there are specific details that should be covered such as dealing with directions, and the possibility of taking that big ‘step’ in crossing the highway. In more recreational situations, while your children should understand how to follow all traffic rules, they must also understand and be prepared with basic safety measures.

Your child’s bicycle should be properly maintained so they have a good foundation to start. Tires should be full and holding air, the chain properly greased, and the brakes working like a charm. The bike should be equipped with a bell or horn, and if there is a possibility that your child will be riding at dusk, they should have functional lights. And while it is not recommended for a younger child to be riding in the dark, if your older child might be—or if that is the case for you—make sure you have as much lighting as possible, and reflectors. These can be applied to the bicycle, as well as your helmet and even clothing and shoes (another great tip for pedestrians to keep in mind too, minus the helmet). While explaining traffic laws to your child, you may want to brush up on the rules, signs, and signals here.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Too Many Bicyclists Die in Florida Each Year—and The Problem is Not New

Do you remember your first bike ride? Most of us have a faint shadow of a memory of the training wheels being removed (finally) and a parent running along beside us. Some of us were successful in that first ride—while some of us wiped out fast and usually got a little scraped up. If you ride a bike at any age, chances are you will have more than one spill. Whether you end up in the grass, on the concrete, or flying head-first over the handlebars, the hope is that you will be wearing protective gear and not experience any serious injury. This could be out of your control, however, if you are at the mercy of a motorist who may be distracted by their smartphone, busy eating food and beverages, engaging with passengers, or fiddling with a GPS calling out directions. Reckless motorists could also be extremely unpredictable if they are drowsy or drunk while behind the wheel.

Florida is particularly hazardous for bicyclists, with news reports pointing out that Tampa Bay—and Pinellas County specifically—is the most dangerous area in the nation for bicycling. Just as with so many major issues regarding traffic incidents, experts have not pinpointed one exact reason for this geographical detail affecting residents and visitors to Florida. Bicyclist fatality rates have been rising since 2010 though for Florida, a state that has far outpaced such issues in other states at 56 percent higher than other states like California or Texas. There was a downturn in fatalities last year, and while infrastructure analysts hope that will continue, they must look at the issues causing deaths.

Infrastructure itself may be the issue in many cases as there is not proper illumination at night on roads or crosswalks. Many bicycle and pedestrian accidents occur at night too, on roadsides in rural areas. A larger population of senior drivers may be contributing to these statistics, as well as the considerable number of tourists who are on the roads year-round. Florida, the ‘Sunshine State,’ is also known for great weather and mild seasons, leading more people to bicycle for twelve months out of the year, taking in warmth, fresh air, and hoping to enjoy all the benefits of getting exercise on two wheels. This could result in exactly the opposite effect however, due to negligent drivers.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Drinking and Bicycling Can Have Fatal Results

Millions of enthusiasts around the US enjoy riding bicycles, whether taking the healthy route for a daily commute, not to mention one that is more affordable, plus better for the environment in avoiding the use of any fuel except for that of human exertion. Bicycling is an activity that can be immensely appreciated whether riding solo or in a group with family and friends, contributing to good heart and lung health as well as burning enormous amounts of calories—all while building stronger bones and muscles.

We have produced numerous blogs about the priority that should be placed on safety for kids on bicycles, whether traveling in a group or on their way to school, but as an adult bicyclist, remember that you have the same responsibilities in traffic that other adult motorists do. This includes refraining from riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And while doing so is generally illegal and dangerous, because bicyclists are so much more vulnerable in traffic, alcohol can not only be the cause of bicycle accidents but allow for results that are further catastrophic—even resulting in fatality.

Ongoing data has shown Florida as first in bicyclist fatalities, and while the numbers may simply be higher due to the good weather in the Sunshine State, extreme caution should be exercised while on the streets and highways which are famous for senior drivers, along with many tourists who may not be familiar with the area and are driving erratically.

“You kind of mush it all together, and it helps us explain as best we can what’s going on out there,” said Pam Fischer, author of a recent report for the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Data shows that alcohol use may play an unfortunate role in bicycle accidents and fatalities in Florida, with a significant number of those involved in crashes exhibiting alcohol levels in their blood at the time of the traffic incidents. Distracted driving (especially texting) continues to be the major cause of accidents in terms of motorist negligence as well. Injuries to bicyclists may include concussions or traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries or paralysis, broken bones, sprains, and more.

If you or a loved one have been affected by a bicycle accident injury caused by the negligence of others contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Avoiding Fatalities at the Swimming Pool: Know CPR

Swimming is a year-round activity in Florida, enjoyed by all ages. And while many of us enjoy a dip in the ocean, swimming pools are much more accessible—and often situated right in the patio area or in the backyard. Unfortunately, dangers usually accompany recreation in the water too—causing boating accidents, drownings at the beach, and raising the potential for swimming pool fatalities.

Whether you are permanently retired or enjoy your pool as a getaway from the busy life, it is probably often the center of gatherings between family and friends. Pool parties can be one of the greatest ways to kick back on the weekends, celebrate birthdays, and more. There can be a lot of distractions though and supervision may become difficult, with the alcohol flowing for the adults, and events that involve kids becoming chaotic at times. Safety should always be the first consideration, and this starts with following Florida law regarding pools, requiring homeowners to choose from one option, to include a barrier like a fence or wall (at least four feet high), alarms on windows and doors to the swimming area, a pool cover, or latching gates to entrance/exit areas.

In the event of a swimming accident or a potential drowning, it is extremely helpful to know CPR. Even children as young as nine or so can take classes to learn how to save someone if they require resuscitation, and there have been numerous cases where they were able to save lives due to CPR education. CPR is performed with chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing meant to start the heart again after it has failed in a drowning episode or perhaps even a heart attack that was unrelated to the activities at hand. An individual who experienced distress in the water has a much better chance of survival if CPR is administered almost immediately.

It is important to watch kids constantly while they are in the pool, and if you frequent public pools, make sure there is a lifeguard in charge. Swimming classes may also offer some of the best lessons in life that your kids can learn too, but it is important to keep them enrolled year after year until they have developed into fully capable older swimmers.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a swimming pool accident due to the negligence of another party, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.