A school zone is hard to miss during the times of morning drop off and after school pick up. School zone safety is something to always keep in mind during the times you are in a school zone and the surrounding areas. School zones are the areas that become highly concentrated with school generated traffic. California is different than most states because it doesn’t require schools to provide busing to students except in very limited circumstances.
The lack of school buses increases the traffic in the school zones because less buses results in more cars trying to enter and leave the school zones. Many school zones in California become extremely congested resulting in long lines of cars waiting to drop off or pick up their children. The size of each school zone varies and is determined by a few different factors. A school zone starts at the front door of the campus but encompasses the campus and as many blocks surrounding the school that have a high concentration of school-generated traffic that is deemed necessary to increase the safety of the children and those coming to and from the school.
School Zone Safety is Important
In general, speed limits in school zones are about 5-10 miles per hour below the normal posted speed limit. The decreased speed limit is necessary due to unsafe crossing practices, increased traffic, increase pedestrian presence and many other factors. It is important to ensure you pay attention to each speed limit sign that is posted in individual school zone because it can vary. The decreased speed limit in school zone doesn’t mean it is always followed since it would be unrealistic to have a police officer stationed at every school zone. Many people are in a rush during morning drop off and afternoon pick up due to having parents trying to rush off to work and trying to avoid penalties that are implemented when children are marked tardy multiple times.
With the increase in both pedestrian and vehicle traffic, it is extremely important to keep school zone safety in mind
This applies to every school zone, not just the schools with younger children. It isn’t only younger children you have to worry about in school zones. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, there are 5 teen pedestrian deaths every week in the United States which continues to rise. There has been a 13% increase in the death rate of 12-19-year-old individuals in school zones since 2013. This rise can be due to the subsequent rise in distracted walking and distracted driving! Distracted driving is extremely dangerous, no matter the situation. However, it is even more dangerous in school zones due to the high congestion of traffic, pedestrians, and unpredictability of children or those that are distracted walking.
There are numerous things you can do while in a school zone to help ensure school zone safety. Although, driving safely and lawfully around school busses applies every time you are on the road it is important to remember those practices in school zones as well. For example, when a school bus comes to a complete stop with its lights flashing (and they will likely have their stop signs out as well) then you must stop. In majority of states, this law applies to when you are on the same side of the road as the bus and when you are on the opposite side of the road as well. This allows for children to cross the street safely. You should never pass a school bus that has come to a complete stop and is loading or unloading children.
Crosswalk Paths in School Zones
When in a school zone you should be extra cautious about ensuring you don’t block crosswalks. You don’t want to force a child to have to walk outside the cross walk to get around your vehicle since it puts them in the unsafe path of moving traffic.
Always be sure you stop appropriately and are at or behind the white line that is placed before the crosswalk. Some crosswalks have lights that will flash when pedestrians are crossing. When these lights flash all drivers must yield! Pedestrians always have the right of way and this is extremely important in school zones. Another important note to make about crosswalks is regarding crossing guards. If there is a crossing guard on the street, then every vehicle should stop and wait until the crossing guard is out of the road. The crossing guard is always the first person on the road and the last person on the road. If a crossing guard is still in the road then drivers should assume children are still crossing the street.
When you are driving in a school zone, it is important to double check your car’s blind spots to ensure you aren’t missing a pedestrian walking through a blind spot especially when you are backing out of driveways or parking spaces. These are just a few tips of how to safely navigate through a school zone, but you should always try to slow down, give yourself extra time when you know you have to travel through a school zone, and pay close attention to your surroundings when you are driving through a school zone.