Sadly, the nature of our work means that we often write about local tragedies and don't get the opportunity to highlight the many good stories and good people in our community. It would be easy to become pessimistic when you work with people following some of the worst days of their lives, but we truly believe that for every wrongful act there are many more moments of kindness and hope. One such effort caught the eye of our pedestrian safety law firm, and involves a local elementary school taking part in a national campaign to keep young pedestrians safe.
Reporters from WMBB followed as the Cherry Street Elementary School community took part in National Walk to School Day on Wednesday October 9. Anna Garrett, a teacher and parent liaison for the school, noted that the school is located in a good area for walking and includes a sizeable number of regular walkers. In support of the national campaign, approximately 50 students and their parents (including some who typically ride to school) were joined by Panama City Police Officers as they walked down Cherry Street to the school. Garrett said the effort was intended to promote pedestrian safety, including reminding the children to look both ways before crossing and always obey crossing guard instructions. Another parent praised the involvement of the community in the day and in the school in general. Cherry Street Elementary also plans to take part in the related National Bike to School Day in May
Walk to School Day is actually an international event, involving more than 40 countries and thousands of U.S. schools, including participants from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Walking to school benefits the children by encouraging healthy habits and, over time, a sense of independence. It also benefits communities by protecting the environment, reducing traffic congestion, saving money (including busing expenses and road upkeep), and promoting a sense of community.
The organization also provides guidance to parents on educating their children about pedestrian safety. They encourage parents to model safe walking, practicing good habits while walking with children and preparing them to walk independently when they are mature enough to do so. Tips include: wearing bright clothing, watching for cars at driveways and intersections, obeying signs and signals, and crossing safely and appropriately.
Parents are also encouraged to choose safe routes, looking for paths with the fewer intersections and less traffic whenever possible. As the group notes, there is no magic age when children are ready to walk alone. This is a very case-specific determination based on the child's maturity. We would add that it also depends on the safety of the route and the community as a whole.
Of course, safety is a community-wide effort. Drivers must look out for pedestrians of all ages, but should pay particular attention near school and playgrounds. Local community planners should be encouraged to make roads pedestrian-friendly, including installing sidewalks and crosswalks where appropriate.
We believe in pedestrians, in safety, and in accident prevention. We also believe in our work as a law firm for pedestrians in Panama City and throughout the region, including personal injury and wrongful death matters. Until the day when no more pedestrians are injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents, we will be here to represent the injured and the grieving.