Should 13 year olds Not Be Allowed to Cross the Street by Themselves?

Hi Folks — I’ve got a piece up over at Common Good about a jury awarding a family quite a gargantuan sum after their daughter, 13, died crossing the street to her school bus stop.

What can a ruling like this do to childhood? Feel free to check out my worries. — L. 

School Bus Stock Photo

Should kids be picked up only on their side of the street?

53 Responses to Should 13 year olds Not Be Allowed to Cross the Street by Themselves?

  1. Red April 23, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    We have one bus stop in our subdivision, directly in the center. Kids, including kindergarteners, are required to walk up to two blocks to get to and from the bus stop. (About 15 kids get on at that one stop.) One of the reasons this exists is that the bus can’t go down to the far end of the subdivision, since there’s only a small cul-de-sac down there, too small for the bus to easily turn about in . (The fire department in our town actually brings their big truck out to the cul-de-sac once a year to practice turning about there, because it’s that difficult for large vehicles.)

    Our district currently states that only kindergarteners needs to be supervised at the bus stop. They will let a 1st grader off to walk home all by his or her lonesome. My kid does it at times when I miss the sound of the bus going by.

    What you’re going to see is stupid and perhaps unenforceable policies implemented by districts requiring (for example) that all kids be walked to and picked up from the stop. Which will result in 15 kids + 15 parents crowding our stop in the mornings, and the entire bus route taking longer because the driver has to wait for parents in the afternoons. And probably a whole bunch of cars crowded around the bus stop, actually making the whole process more dangerous regarding car traffic rather than less.

  2. anonymous this time April 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Any link to the actual case? Would love to hear more about the exact circumstances. Not that I can think of any 13-year-old-crossing-the-street-and-the-school-board-is-responsible-for-her-death circumstance that would warrant an awarding of $90m.

  3. Eileen April 23, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Wouldn’t someone have to know a LOT more about the suit to have any educated opinion? Was the street large? Was it multi-lane? What was the speed limit? Did the bus stop on the other side of the road even though it had been instructed not to? Was there an agreement to pick the child up on same side that was never followed (as suggested)?

    There was a child’s death in our city recently from the same situation. It was a road that goes from 1 lane on each side of the center to multiple lanes over the course of about a quarter mile. An elderly driver did not realize they needed to stop because the road was so wide at the point of the bus stop. As a reasonable person who travels that road, I would never want my child to cross that street to get on or off a bus. Frankly I was stunned that they’d expect kids to do it based on the traffic and driving patterns.

    There’s just no way to responsibly comment if you haven’t seen the evidence.

  4. SKL April 23, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Where I live, the kids stand on the side of the street where their house is, and wait until the bus stops, puts the stop sign all the way out, and the driver tells the kids to cross the street. Meanwhile the kids waiting on the same side of the street as the bus must wait to board until after the kids from the other side have gotten on. It’s a daily traffic jam during rush hour. Stupid. Especially since the kids who are waiting on the “other side” of the street (around 8-9yo) are always with their mom. AND the bus stop is at a crosswalk manned by 2 or 3 crossing guards! Bah.

    I love the school bus law that says everyone has to stop while the bus is stopped with its lights and stop sign going. However, do they need to make it as inefficient as possible?

  5. Red April 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    @SKL: Wow.

    Our bus pulls into the subdivision on a short street that Ts into our main street and stops right at that corner before turning. Kids come from all directions. In fact, there’s a big soccer game that goes on every morning on the property the bus ends up facing, and when the bus pulls in, the kids kick the ball into the garage, and then all pour across the main street to get onto the bus.

    (These are the elementary kids, grades K-5).

  6. Amanda Matthews April 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    @Eileen
    “Wouldn’t someone have to know a LOT more about the suit to have any educated opinion?”

    I disagree. IMO it doesn’t matter how wide and/or busy the road was. Even if you don’t realize you are suppose to stop, you should be looking out for things in the road. Even if there is no stop sign, you should have the sense to – and be paying attention enough to – stop when a person is in front of you.

    I know it can sometimes be difficult to pay attention, and I know there’s a lot of different things to pay attention to while driving. But if people can not do this, they should not be driving. I know that not driving makes a lot of things difficult and inconvenient, but oh well. Driving is not some constitutional right. If you can’t see/notice that someone is crossing the street, no matter their age, and know to stop before you hit them, then you are endangering the lives of every single person within the area you drive.

    The city bus is not going to pick anyone up on the opposite side; so maybe students will be a little safer for not having to cross the street, but what about the countless non-students, which vastly outnumber the students? And how are the students suppose to learn to cross the street safely to get on the city bus someday?

    The solution is to stop such people from driving before they hit someone; not to disallow people from crossing the street, and not to force schools to pick up students on “their” side.

  7. Yan Seiner April 23, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    Here’s the telling quote:

    “I didn’t ask anyone to give me any money or anything like that,” her mother said. “I just want someone held responsible for what happened to my daughter.”

    No matter what, we want SOMEONE HELD RESPONSIBLE. Because everything, everywhere, at all times, MUST BE SOMEONE’S FAULT.

    And it’s even better if we can someone with deep, deep pockets.

    What happened is tragic, yes. But the person responsible is the driver of the car, not the school board. OOPS, the driver doesn’t have $90,000,000; they can’t be responsible.

    By the same reasoning, the mother is more responsible, because she knew, or should have known, that such an accident could happen, and therefore she’s negligent as a mother in preventing her daughter’s death.

  8. SKL April 23, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    As tragic as this is, I have to wonder why a 13yo (neurotypical child?) would not have checked the traffic situation before entering the street. When I was 13yo I attended a summer enrichment program at an all-county vocational school. Because I had a babysitting job in the afternoons, I rode my bike, though I could have walked to the local high school and hopped on the bus instead. It was maybe 5 miles away along country roads with freeway speed limits. No sidewalks, just a deep drainage ditch on each side. It didn’t strike anyone as strange that I was responsible for keeping myself alive on the road.

    Then again, crazy stuff happens; drivers get out of control and cause accidents. Why would they treat it differently just because this one happened when the child was going to/from a bus?

    If the child was in primary school, I would feel differently. You have to predict poor judgment when you mix little kids with traffic. But a 13yo has about the same capacity as an adult to stay safe in traffic.

  9. Ann April 23, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    There was recently a tragic accident similar to this in our area where a child was hit crossing the road to catch the school bus. No suit was filed, but a decision was made by the district to move that bus stop. It was on an extremely busy road where people drive way over the 45 mph speed limit, and while I happily let my kids walk to the school bus and cross the street by themselves in my neighborhood, I would not have been comfortable letting them cross this particular street. I wouldn’t want to cross it myself. It was a bad location for a bus stop, period. If the bus stop in this case was at a similarly bad location, I think the answer is to learn from the accident and move the stop to a safer location, not charge the school district an enormous sum. School districts everywhere are struggling financially, and punishing the school district is not going to bring back that child.

  10. Eileen April 23, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    @Amanda Matthews, well I guess we just disagree. There is no possible way for people that haven’t been presented evidence to determine if something is just or unjust, negligent or not. I’m guessing anyone that sat in a jury box and said that there is no way that the school board was negligent, before ever hearing any evidence, would be selected.

    For all I know this was a small street in a neighborhood like mine were kids crossed in front of the bus and crossed the street to get on/off the bus (mine did it every day). But it could also have been the street I described that should never have children crossing in the middle of the road due to the traffic, road width, and speed with which the road is used.

    Your example about a city bus is valid…except there are things like crosswalks and traffic lights and pedestrian crossings. Adults don’t typically wait and jaywalk when the city bus arrives (which is essentially what school children do under the protection of the bus’ stop sign and lights).

    I’m not taking a side…other than one that’s prudent by saying there’s no way to understand if someone is negligent until you’ve heard evidence for and against…rather than soundbites.

  11. Julie April 23, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    When I was in 7th grade, we moved close enough to the school that I had to walk–and cross a major street to get there. I remember feeling insulted that they paid a crossing guard to help MIDDLE SCHOOLERS across the street. Seriously? I’d been crossing the street alone for YEARS at that point and could do it all the time outside of school hours.

    13 is only a couple years from driving. If they can’t look for cars as a pedestrian, I fear for them (and everyone else) when they get behind the wheel.

  12. Amanda Matthews April 23, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    “Adults don’t typically wait and jaywalk when the city bus arrives”

    Maybe not in your area. Well okay, they don’t wait and then do it; they usually do it because they will miss the bus if they don’t. But if the issue is jaywalking at a school bus stop (though actually, it is not considered jaywalking to get to a schoolbus if the schoolbus is stopped with it’s stopsign out), it’s possible for students to go to the nearest crosswalk, cross, and then walk back to where the bus stop actually is on the correct side of the street. Just like that’s possible for a city bus stop, but people sometimes don’t do it.

    Students sometimes don’t cross at the crosswalk to get to the schoolbus… people of all ages sometimes don’t cross at the crosswalk to get to the city bus or for whatever reason. Drivers should be watching out for that at all times, and not just expect the law – or what they think is the law – to keep others safe from their driving.

  13. Amanda Matthews April 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    @Julie Good point… pedestrians should not expect the law to protect them from cars either.

    I’d be willing to bet that 13 year olds that won’t look out for cars end up becoming drivers that won’t look out for pedestrians.

  14. Eileen April 23, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    Like I said….we’ll just disagree. Of course the students aren’t jaywalking when the bus is stopped with lights and signs active. I was merely pointing out that adults don’t wait for city buses as school children wait for school buses. In the accident situation I described, a child would have to walk about a half mile to and from a traffic light, which is obviously unfeasible. City bus stops are typically at/near intersections.

    Anyway – this article talks a little more about the bus situation:

    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-04-14/local/38537648_1_school-bus-school-system-13-year-old-girl
    [[
    Parents in Prince George’s have complained for years about late school buses and unsafe routes that children have to walk to get to school.

    Last year, the complaints grew more intense when the school system, which was dealing with a bus driver shortage, rolled out a new cost-cutting transportation policy that reduced the fleet by 130 buses, combined middle and high school students on some of the routes, consolidated drivers’ bus routes and cut the number of stops by 2,350.]]

  15. Eileen April 23, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    I’m new to this blog (got the link from somewhere else) but I’m starting to get the vibe here. This main article talks about the driver’s responsibility for breaking the lawn (which I TOTALLY agree with), but I’ve now seen the child being blamed as well. And a dead 13 year old projected to be a careless driver. All without knowing the specific details of what transpired.

    Car speeding? Curved road with limited visibility? Who knows.

    Again, I have no idea what actually happened that day…and neither does anyone else here.

  16. Amanda Matthews April 23, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    “City bus stops are typically at/near intersections.”

    Again, maybe in your area. I’ve lived all over the US and I would not say that city bus stops are typically at/near intersections. Waiting for school buses and waiting for city buses is exactly the same in my experience, and in fact I have seen (while riding) more school bus stops at intersections than city buses.

    “In the accident situation I described, a child would have to walk about a half mile to and from a traffic light, which is obviously unfeasible.”

    I don’t see why that is unfeasible. Maybe inconvenient, certainly inefficient, but not unfeasible. Anyway, if you want students crossing at the crosswalk, the bus stop would have to be moved down there anyway and the students would still have to walk that half mile. But if the intersections are so far apart in their area, they have to learn to jaywalk safely so that they can get places other than the bus stop, right?

    I don’t feel blame is bad when it is placed where it belongs. It’s bad when it is placed where it doesn’t belong. It’s bad when there actually is no one to blame. The blame in these situations do not belong on the schools, but neither are these blameless situations. If these kids had been crossing for reasons other than getting to the school bus, people would be placing the blame where it belongs. Would parents successfully sue the city and force them to move their stops if their child had been hit trying to get on the city bus? Could they sue a shop owner or force the shop owner to move if their child was walking to a store?

  17. Amanda Matthews April 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    Actually no, scratch part of that last paragraph… if the kids had been hit doing something else, the blame would probably wrongly be put on the parents for allowing them to walk.

  18. Michelle April 23, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    The elementary school in my neighborhood already requires all kids to be picked up from the bus stop by an adult. They will not drop off a child if only a teenaged babysitter is waiting. If there’s no adult standing at the bus stop, they take the kid to the police station and drop them off there instead!

    My homeschooled, elementary-aged kids regularly walk across the entire neighborhood to play on the school playground after school hours, but students coming home from school aren’t allowed to walk one block to their own homes.

  19. Eileen April 23, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    You’re making my point. If a child is going to walk down to a safe place to cross the street, why not just move the bus-stop there. That’s a very logical way to address a bus route that uses a very busy street.

    But my bigger point is that no one here can “assign blame” without knowing the details of a situation.

    I have no understanding of why you are talking about kids crossing a street “for other reasons other than getting to the school bus”. That’s not what we’re discussing. It changes everything about the situation. So sure, if someone is jaywalking and the drivers aren’t breaking a law, the walker is at fault.

    Perhaps the child was at fault. But perhaps the school system was not being managed to minimize risk to the students riding the bus. Mistakes can be made by a bus driver or transportation manager just as easily as a pedestrian. The evidence paints the correct picture, not supposition by uninvolved parties.

    The article I linked claims (and again, it’s a claim – I wasn’t in the courtroom) that the intended bus was not stopping at this child’s bus stop, which is why she had to (or chose to) cross the street to catch a bus at a different stop. So, *if* that is true, the transportation was at least making one mistake.

    But again…I’m not choosing sides…no one should without hearing the whole story.

    BTW, the article link from this post talks about how the school system’s liability is capped.

  20. E. Simms April 23, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    If you google this you’ll find a lot of articles. It looks like the main issue was that the school board had a written policy that said that students would not have to cross the street to get to the bus. (It wasn’t clear whether it was this particular bus stop or all bus stops.) Since the board violated its own written policy, the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff. It may have been another story if the board didn’t have this ridiculous policy to begin with. Maybe the attorneys here can shed some more light.

  21. Eileen April 23, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    @Michelle, are you saying that if a child lives within walking distance of the elementary school (and attends the school) that they must ride a bus to/from school and have a parent greet the bus? I’ve never heard of that.

  22. Michelle April 23, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    “I have no understanding of why you are talking about kids crossing a street “for other reasons other than getting to the school bus”. That’s not what we’re discussing. It changes everything about the situation.”

    Wait… what??? I was with you on the whole, “don’t judge until you know all the facts” thing. But in a situation where a pedestrian is hit by a car, you think the thing that “changes everything” is the *reason the pedestrian is crossing the street*??

  23. E. Simms April 23, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    BTW, this is a high school bus stop. The girl was an almost fourteen year old freshman.

  24. Michelle April 23, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    @Eileen, I never said kids have to ride the bus. They are allowed to walk to school with their parents, or their parents can drive them to school. But if they ride the bus, they must be escorted to and from the bus stop by an adult.

    A neighbor of mine was recently unable to get home in time to meet her daughter at the bus. She called the school and was told that if she wasn’t at the bus stop, her daughter would be taken to the police. She called me, but I was just stepping out of the shower, so I sent my 15yo daughter. (I didn’t know that wasn’t allowed, and neither did my neighbor.) The bus driver didn’t even stop — just kept going and took the girl to the police station. Then they sent the mom to the *wrong police station* to pick up her daughter, so she ended up driving around for over an hour trying to get her kid back.

  25. Amanda Matthews April 23, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    ” That’s a very logical way to address a bus route that uses a very busy street.”

    *facepalm* I didn’t actually mean that was a logical way to address it. Making students walk an extra half a mile is not at all the logical way to address it; the logical thing is for the school bus to put out a stop sign and the students to cross the street.

    Really since they will have to walk more to walk to the half-mile further away bus stop, it is actually less safe. More time out walking = more oprotunities to get run over. Cars can run over people that aren’t crossing the street, you know.

    “I have no understanding of why you are talking about kids crossing a street “for other reasons other than getting to the school bus”. That’s not what we’re discussing. It changes everything about the situation. So sure, if someone is jaywalking and the drivers aren’t breaking a law, the walker is at fault.”

    With this paragraph you seem to imply that “fault” lies only with the person that is breaking the law… I do not agree to that. If someone is jaywalking without looking and gets hit by a car, it is the fault of both the jaywalker and the driver. If someone is legally crossing the street at a place that is not a crosswalk (i.e. not jaywalking) without looking for cars and gets hit, it is still both the fault of the walker and the driver. If someone jumps out into the street without giving a driver enough time to stop, and the driver sees it and attempts to stop but still hits them, then it is the fault of the walker. But in no situation will I consider it the fault of the school.

    IMO the school is not responsible for ensuring the safety of children crossing the street unless during a crossing-the-street class. No matter what the law is or what lawsuit was won; I’m going by my morals here, not the law. The student in question was not even under the school’s care yet – I will never subscribe to the idea that students are under the school’s care (and therefore under the school’s rules) from the time they leave their house in the morning until the time they return to it.

    People are responsible for looking where they are driving and walking. The law is not responsible for that, the school is not responsible for that. Because no matter what the law says, it can’t completely protect you. The law says that people must stop when a school bus has its stop sign out, and that it is legal for students to cross then – obviously that didn’t protect these students. It’s illegal to kill someone – obviously that didn’t protect these students. No amount of laws, lawsuits, or changing the location of bus stop or etc. will make people safe from not looking out for cars/from cars not looking out for people.

  26. Ben April 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    Unfortunately, kids dying in traffic accidents is more common than it should be, but the law needs some common sense. If a kid has to cross the street to reach a bus stop, then it’s up to drivers to be careful in that area. Whoever hit her wasn’t — and that is the person who should be held responsible to the sum of a hefty prison sentence — no money.

  27. Yan Seiner April 23, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    @E. Simms: It’s at times like this that I wish our legal system had a “this law is absurd” verdict. Really, the school board violated its own policy. OK. Does that make it complicit in the death of a child?

    The main cause was the driver.

    Tell the district to follow its policy or change it.

    But this sort of award is nothing but trolling for a big payday by an attorney profiting off the death of a child, with what will result in more restrictions on public education…..

  28. rhodykat April 23, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Crossing a street is a life skill. My guess is something distracted the 13 yo (texting? earbuds?) so that she wasn’t paying full attention and was blindly relying on the bus to stop the traffic without double checking, possibly as a consequence of years of blindly relying on her parents to cross her. This is the reason that I will never hold my kids hands in traffic – it is their responsibility to always check for danger and cars on their own from a very young age. No favors are done by making them immune to the danger by always crossing them. Either way, the school isn’t responsible. (As an aside, my 10 yo just asked me what the post was about and said that the accident would be the fault of the girl or the driver, both of whom should have been paying attention to the road and that the bus had nothing to do with it)

  29. Suzanne April 23, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    For those wondering how big a road we’re talking about here, based on the news reports it appears to have taken place here: https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=Brinkley+Road+Prince+George+County,+MD&rlz=1C1SAVA_enCA502CA502&aq=f&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&sa=N&tab=wl

    Google streetview shows it as a through way with one lane in each direction and crosswalks.

  30. Donna April 23, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    I like how (almost) everyone here has decided – without knowing a SINGLE fact – that the school district couldn’t possibly be negligent at all.

  31. DH April 23, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    So, since it appears that this lawsuit succeeded because the school district had a stupid, over-reaching policy, maybe it will instead start bringing the end of stupid policies.

    The more policies they make, the more possibilities they open themselves to liability-wise. Have a policy that states that even high-schoolers will have a bus stop on their side of the street? Get sued when it’s not possible and an accident happens. Have a policy that an adult must pick up an elementary child from the bus stop? Get sued when there’s a random adult there and the kid is thus dropped off. Fewer policies, fewer ways the school districts are opening themselves to liability when things go wrong.

    We can hope.

  32. Katie April 23, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    I don’t live in PG county but live in the DC area and are familiar with it. Unfortunately too many in that area have an attitude of the government will provide. I can see suing the driver if there is fault there. The school system there is already struggling-I have a relative who works there. PG county is the worst area and poorest area in the DC region outside of SE DC.

  33. Taradlion April 23, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    Without knowing the facts of the case (did the bus have working flashers/stop sign, etc), I didnt want to make an assumption about negligence; howerer, I did keep thinking as comments were coming in, “the child was THIRTEEN”. It is true that even an adult’s dealth may be due to someone else’s negligence, but I think Lenore’s point goes more to the quote from her mother: “If she didn’t have to cross the street … she’d be graduating this year,” her mother said. “She’d be going to prom this year.”…

    Maybe it is out if context, but quote was not, “if only such and such had not been faulty” or “if only the bus stop had been in a safer spot”…IF SHE DIDN’T HAVE TO CROSS THE STREET!

  34. hineata April 24, 2013 at 12:37 am #

    This is just very sad. Poor kid – whoever was at fault, the kid or the car driver, it’s a sad outcome.

    Am not quite sure how suing anyone is going to help anything though, beyond maybe seeing the parents got sufficient help to pay for the funeral, because who plans for their child’s funeral? (Barring children born with certain congenital conditions, I suppose :-( ……)

    If there really is a problem here to be addressed, like maybe changing the bus stop arrangements, or building decent footpaths or something (and obviously I’m not there, so I don’t know) wouldn’t it be better to campaign for a change in these, rather than sue someone? A boy down here was killed while crossing the railway tracks on his way to school (a designated pedestrian ‘crossing’, but uncontrolled, and the kid was distracted, like kids are sometimes). The mother campaigned for a controlled crossing, which was granted, and no more issues…

  35. Donna April 24, 2013 at 1:04 am #

    @Taradlion – People say platitudes like that about deaths all the time. “If only my husband hadn’t gone to LA” when he’s killed by a drunk driver on the way home. I’ve heard numerous comments along the lines of “if only [the dead and injured] hadn’t gone to the Boston Marathon” in the last week. In fact, the post about staying out of public places is a variation of this same thought process. It doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a legitimate fault here.

    I don’t know whether the school district was negligent or not based on the 3 sentences I know about the case. I do know that 12 impartial people thought so and that at least some of those 12 impartial people were TAX PAYERS in the school district that must now pay this money so, in essence, thought the actions of the school district were serious enough that they (the taxpaying JURORS) should have to pay this family. Either there was some negligence or the jury was completely nuts and made a totally irrational decision.

  36. SKL April 24, 2013 at 4:48 am #

    Donna, I wouldn’t be so sure that the jurors were taxpayers, but that’s another matter. They probably figured the school’s insurance would pay. Which is even worse because now the insurance companies will force schools to adopt inefficient nanny state policies.

  37. Joe April 24, 2013 at 5:54 am #

    Sounds like, if the school district didn’t tell the parents they would pick up the child on her side of the street, probably wouldn’t be any lawsuit.

  38. Katie April 24, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    @Red- Gosh, I wish it were that way here! As far as I can make out, the buses all stop at every house where any student gets on. At all age levels, including high school. (Since we homeschool, I’m only observing). This means buses stopping throughout the day, and on a busy street that can be highly annoying for anyone stuck behind them driving. I cannot understand why there are not stops at corners every two blocks. Okay, pick up each Head Start child and each special-needs child at his own house. That’s fine. But for everyone else, let’s have stops! (seriously, I think for the three houses immediately near us with kids going to school, there must be four different stopping buses every day.)

  39. Katie April 24, 2013 at 6:50 am #

    @Michelle- HOW do those policies requiring an adult to meet the child work? There are tons of families for whom that has to be more than slightly burdensome. While I’d be happy in a pinch to do that for someone else’s children, I cannot imagine how that works for every. single. family. every. single. day.

  40. Taradlion April 24, 2013 at 6:50 am #

    @Donna- 100% agree that grieving people run through all the “if only….,” in fact, I have said that in other discussions when people blame parents for children’s death/injury and start suggesting ways the parent could have been more vigilant, or when people say, “I would never forgive myself if something happened.” You can do everything “right,” and some drunk driver could run down your child. I think most parents would think not only, “if only the driver had not been drinking,” but also, “if only we hadn’t gone for ice cream,” “if only we’d taken the longer route,” IF ONLY. Do you remember the post (maybe a year ago, in the days of Dolly) when the 4 year old was killed trying to cross a 4 lane highway with his mom and siblings? I was thinking about that post. Totally different situation.

    Maybe I read too much into it, but from the little I was able to find in links, it seemed that the mother felt her 13 year old should not have had to cross the street (and that the school district had a policy that buses only pick kids up on the side of the street that live on). That was more what I was trying to get at. That the “if only” this grieving mother picked was crossing the street. That because of her death (although it was 3 years ago), 13 year olds are not safe to cross the street…or perhaps that school districts will make rules (and follow them?) not allowing 8th graders to cross the street for fear of being sued and losing.

  41. Lola April 24, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    I wonder if this gives lazy teenagers a wonderful excuse to play truant…
    “I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to school. See, I had to cross a couple of busy streets to get there, and I’d never want the school board made responsible if anything happened to me on the way.”

  42. Red April 24, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    @Katie: It apparently used to be that way around here, but when we lost a bunch of our state transportation funding, they ended up consolidating the bus stops.

    Unfortunately, we may not even have bus service come next school year, because our district has been told that all state transportation funding may be withdrawn. I don’t even know how that will work. It’s not possible for the kids in our subdivision to walk to school (their school is about 4 miles away, on the other side of a major interstate and there is no pedestrian crossing over the interstate). I’ve had to drop the kid off once this year, and that dropoff was hell. 15 minutes in a car line to get up to the dropoff point.

  43. Rae April 24, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    There seems to be a rash of these. Here’s the one that happened in my suburb: http://www.wral.com/14-year-old-girl-killed-at-school-bus-stop-near-garner/12263943/

    The thing that may be different is that you’ll see that the “kids” in question are in the magnet high school and started crossing the street before the school bus had stopped. So who’s “at fault” there — the bus driver for not getting the complete stop out before the kids started parking, the kids for not obeying standard crossing rules, or the driver who didn’t take enough defensive driving to understand that children cross streets illegally and could get hurt?

    The case is sad for the family, dealing with the loss of a child. The case is sad for the driver, knowing they accidentally killed a child while being completely legal in their behavior. The case is sad for the bus driver who knows that if they had just come to a complete stop sooner and reminded the kids daily to be correct in waiting s/he may have saved a life. But should any of that result in a fine for the school system? rerouting of every bus in an already chaotic system? more crosswalks and such on an already congested and busy road? Or just a better awareness of our surroundings and that rules exist for a reason?

  44. pentamom April 24, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    SKL, everyone pays property taxes unless they are homeless or living rent-free in someone else’s home. Renters pay indirectly through their rent — the landlord isn’t paying out of the money Grandma sends him at Christmas. ;-)

  45. marie April 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    Yan Seiner said, It’s at times like this that I wish our legal system had a “this law is absurd” verdict.

    The jury can make that decision; it’s called jury nullification. The jury can find that the law was applied unfairly/unjustly in the case before them.

    This is a good bit of information to know before you serve on a jury. The judge won’t tell you about your responsibility to nullify and the defense isn’t allowed to tell you. Better if you know this before going in.

  46. Warren April 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Have long said it is time to have professionally trained jurors, that are held responsible for thier actions, as an employee of the state, province, county or whatever jurisdiction. Matters of law should never be decided with emotion.

    You could still have a jury pool, and have the lawyers select from them.

  47. Kay April 24, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    I found a couple of articles:
    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2009-08-31/news/36803767_1_minivan-teenager-critical-injuries

    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-04-14/local/38537648_1_school-bus-school-system-13-year-old-girl

    Also, I think according to the articles, the accident took place just east of Fisher. The girl was crossing from the apartments on the north end to the south side of Brinkley. If you look at google street view, it looks like they have a sidewalk there that ends with some kind of ramp entrance with a ped xing painted on the road. This looks fairly new to me, and possibly done due to this accident. Also, it seems the bus wasn’t there yet, the girl was crossing in anticipation of the bus’s arrival. Also, in looking at google map street view, there could have been a visibility problem as there is a slight bend with tree foliage. I don’t know how fast the car was going. The accident took place in August so there should have been plenty of daylight and since the car was heading east, but the sun could have been in the driver’s eyes after that bend.

    I’m not for certain where the actual bus stop was but that section of sidewalk with the ramp does not seem to be the best spot for good visibility. But the speed limit says 35 mph, so perhaps the driver was distracted, I don’t know.

  48. Katie April 24, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    @SKL Yes, it’s PG county so it is fair to assume that some of them are most likely not tax payers.

    Either through being government employees or welfare in fact they are used to being recipients of government money. Plus many of them believe in reparations. This is a county that voted 89.1 percent democratic.

    @Donna, related to that I could see where you would get the argument from don’t they see it is their own money and your right it is…but they don’t see it and if they are on welfare it might not be their money. It’s why taxes are high in Maryland.

  49. E. Simms April 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    @Red “I’ve had to drop the kid off once this year, and that dropoff was hell. 15 minutes in a car line to get up to the dropoff point.”

    Why not drop him off half a block away? (Unless it’s one of those schools that are completely inaccessible by walking.)

  50. EricS April 24, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    Yes to rhodykat. Yes! A tragic incident. And my condolences to her family and friends. But THIS is the type of thing that we keep mentioning. Coddling, spoiling, not teaching your kids and relying on the rest of the world to watch out for them does our kids no good. I was taught to cross major streets in a major city growing up. Starting at 6 years old. My mother walked me for a few days till I got the hang of it. Since then, I walked to school on my own or with my siblings. I learned timing, judging distance of cars and how fast they were going. I taught my little brother. The only one at fault really, is the driver that hit the child. But without anymore information, that is even uncertain. But, there had to be a scapegoat. Unfortunately, it was the school that got bit.

    Sadly, as how all dumb policies come to be, this will set a bad precedence for other schools to start covering their asses by making more dumb policies. In the end, only the children suffer in the long run. And communities have to pay for the additional funds required to implement these new rules. Rules aren’t going to help. Teaching our kids is the sure fire way to protect them. AND parents should be setting good examples. No using mobile while driving, or walking. No showing that it’s okay to be distracted while driving or walking.

  51. Lisa April 25, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    @Red, I see middle school parents around here wait for over 15 minutes to drop off their kids at the door to the school (clogging an entire street in the process – they turn the whole street into a drop-off line, and to h*** with anyone trying to DRIVE up the street). I never understand why they don’t drop them off at the end of the street, or even further away. True that some people live too far to reasonably walk… I stopped turning down the street my kid’s school was on sometime around halfway through first grade. She walked a few blocks to school (for a year… since then, she’s walked from home). Why do teens need door-to-door service?

  52. Miriam April 30, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    I live in the DC area. Children getting hit by cars on their way to school is all too common here — including while the children are on the sidewalk, or while they’re in the crosswalk with a walk signal. And there are a lot of pedestrian deaths especially in Prince Georges County, where the pedestrian infrastructure is lousy. It’s not just 13-year-olds who can’t cross the street safely around here, it’s able-bodied adults, and adults with disabilities, and senior citizens, and parents with babies in strollers; basically, everyone.

    So I don’t think the question here is whether a 13-year-old should be allowed to cross the street by themselves.

    I think the question is why we’re engineering roads only for people in cars. Roads are for everyone, and everyone should be able to use the road safely — including 13-year-old pedestrians.

    And @Katie — Government employees pay taxes. And people who receive government assistance also pay taxes.

  53. Me May 1, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    I only have the limited info here and did not read the comments, but if the road was a major road or dangerous, which is why the school board aged to give the student a stop on her side of the road, I can see why they were found negligent. They agreed to do something, and did not follow through. Had they done so, the accident wouldn’t have occurred.