New sections of the Lake Highlands Trail cross Tory Sound and Stone River. Several near-misses between pedestrians and vehicles have been reported.

A child was hit by a car Monday morning while walking to Lake Highlands Junior High. Witnesses say the student appears to be on the road to recovery, and Dallas police are hot on the trail of the hit-and-run driver.

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The incident was just the latest in a spate of collisions and near-misses between student pedestrians and motor vehicles near schools, trails and parks in our neighborhood. It feels like a good time for parents — and perhaps school personnel — to speak to kids about the dangers of getting hit by a car. It may be a good time, too, for drivers to remember the life-altering consequences of hurting a child — even if it’s not the fault of the driver.

Lance Phillips, who witnessed Monday’s accident, says the student was at the northwest corner of Ferndale and Walnut Hill. He ran between two parked cars and was thrown up into the air when struck. After a few moments the boy collected himself, picked up the shoe which flew off in the collision and hobbled toward school.

The driver stopped her car, got out to yell at the boy, then drove away.

Another woman —apparently a teacher at nearby Bethany Lutheran — followed the victim to check on his condition. Phillips followed the driver and called police to report her license plate and description.

“As far as I’m concerned, that was a hit-and-run,” Phillips says. He’s been concerned about the boy — and the safety of other kids walking to school — since the incident occurred.

On the new section of trail between Abrams and Skillman near Scofield Christian School, there’ve been numerous near misses as kids go biking, scootering and rollerblading across streets as they travel along the trails toward Arbor Park.

“Please, please pay attention driving and talk to your kiddos about where the trail crosses Tory Sound [and Stone River]. I saw some kids almost get hit last week,” shared Tifany Jeakins, “and my husband saw a really, really scary near-miss this week that totally freaked him out.”

Jeakins’ own son was hit a few years ago while crossing Church Road on his bike. It was “just barely a tap,” she says, but the issue is something she’s “extra aware of” these days. She called the city parks and recreation department to request signage and striping for safety, and temporary orange cones have been placed where the trail meets the roadway. So far, though, children who use the trails continue speeding through.

Drivers brave enough to venture near schools in the morning and afternoon say they frequently are startled by children walking out into lanes of traffic. Pedestrians are often distracted by friends or looking down at their phones instead of watching for oncoming vehicles. Sometimes, students walk out in front of cars, seemingly daring drivers to hit them.

In a 2015 study, Safe Kids Worldwide found that one in five high school students and one in eight middle school students were observed crossing the street distracted. Students were often texting (39 percent) or using headphones (39 percent), and girls were 1.2 times more likely than boys to be distracted.

Youth for Road Safety shared a few tips for ensuring that kids make it home.

  • Teach kids at an early age to look both ways before crossing the street. Walk on sidewalks and cross at crosswalks. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing, and be alert for cars that are turning or backing up.
  • Put away cell phones, headphones and other devices before crossing the street. Be aware of others who are distracted, and speak up when you see someone in danger.
  • Be a good role model. Put away your own phone when driving and walking. Be alert and slow down when driving in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or joggers who may dart into the street unexpectedly. Give pedestrians the right of way.