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School Zone Driving Tips to Keep Everyone Safe

Steve Wagner

5 Driving Tips for A Safer School Zone

With Indiana kids back to school, the personal injury attorneys at Wagner Reese want you to get acquainted with where your community’s school zones are, be cautious around pedestrian crosswalks, and make sure you are following your school’s drop off and pick up rules. Additionally, you need to make an concerted effort to not be distracted by your cell phone and to always slow down in areas where children are present.

Most Indiana municipalities have severe fines for breaking traffic laws within school zones. Some may even double or triple speeding or distracted driving tickets in these areas. Avoid the ticket, but more important reduce the risk of injuring a child with your motor vehicle in a school zone by following this advice.

It’s Simple – Slow Down

Indiana law officials have posted SLOW DOWN warning signs as you enter into a school zone. More often these signs will say “Reduced Speed Limit” but they can also be flashing lights or even special roadway boards that are placed on the street before and after school when traffic is most heavy. Whatever the speed limit is in your child’s school zone, know that it will always be lower than what is posted in other areas of the same street. Many Indiana school zones range from ten or fifteen miles per hour. Knowing that a slower speed is approaching will also allow you to safely reduce your speed without the risk of getting in a fender-bender.

Know Your School Zones

To avoid any tragedy, you must know where your local school zones are and remain alert at all times. The more aware you are of children crossing streets, running with friends, biking alongside the road, or zigzagging in between drop off and pick up zones, the less likely you will be involved in an accident with one of them.

Watch Crosswalks for Pedestrians and Bicyclists

Many school age children walk or ride their bikes to school. Crosswalks are designed to safely take these children from one side of the road to the other. Crosswalk areas will often be marked with warning signs and guided by two white parallel lines on the blacktop. However, not all students use these marked areas. It is still the driver’s job to stop and yield to pedestrians on the road, even those who are not using the marked crosswalks. Many children need to cross streets to get to school and they may or may not be guided by crossing guards, traffic facilitators, or local police. Young children may not be following the regular rules of the road, so be extra cautious when approaching both a guarded or unguarded crosswalk. If you happen to encounter a crossing guard at a crosswalk know that these people should take precedence over any traffic signs or signals that normally control the flow of moving vehicles. It’s the law to follow their cues.

Follow Bus Signals

School buses are big and awkward vehicles and have more blind spots than other vehicles. They also have a difficult time navigating the heavy traffic found during the busy mornings and afternoons in school zones. Your job as a driver is to yield the right of way to them at all times. If you see a school bus stop sign positioned out ahead of you, you need to stop your vehicle until they have retracted it. Students may be exiting the bus and walking on either side to get to their destination.

Respect The School’s Drop-Off and Pick-Up Zone Rules

It is no doubt that drop-off and pick-up times are the busiest for heavy traffic in school zones. These times are also common for drivers to feel rushed, distracted and in a hurry, and lead to unsafe school zones and an increased risk for car accidents. When you visit with your school officials during registration, ask them for the district’s policy on safe drop-off and pick-up zones. If they don’t have a written policy in place, work with the school Principal to develop one.

Indiana Safe Routes To School

The Indiana Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program is based on the federal program designed to make walking and bicycling to school safe and routine. SRTS reminds drivers to always:

  • Slow down and obey all traffic laws and speed limits, both in school zones and in neighborhoods surrounding the school.
  • Comply with local school drop-off and pick-up procedures for the safety of all children attending the school.
  • Avoid double parking or stopping on crosswalks to let children out of the car. Double parking will block visibility for other children and other motorists. Visibility is further reduced during the rain and fog seasons when condensation forms on car windows.
  • Avoid loading or unloading children at locations across the street from the school. This forces youngsters to unnecessarily cross busy streets—often mid-block rather than at a crosswalk.
  • Prepare to stop for a school bus when overhead yellow lights are flashing. Drive with caution when you see yellow hazard warning lights are flashing on a moving or stopped bus.
  • Stop for a school bus with its red overhead lights flashing, regardless of the direction from which the driver is approaching. Drivers must not proceed until the school bus resumes motion and the red lights stop flashing, or until signaled by the school bus driver to proceed.
  • Watch for children walking or bicycling (both on the road and the sidewalk) in areas near a school.
  • Watch for children playing and gathering near bus stops. Watch for children arriving late for the bus, who may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
  • Watch for children walking or biking to school when backing up (out of a driveway or leaving a garage).

Were You Injured In a School Zone Collision? – Call Wagner Reese

It’s not likely you or your child will be injured in a car accident in a school zone, but if it does happen, you want the right people on your side. The school zone car accident attorneys at Wagner Reese have the experience you need to secure compensation and assist you or your child with recovering. Call our offices today at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation.

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