School is back in session and the roads – and sidewalks – are busier. Make sure you allow extra time on your morning commute as you drive through school zones and watch out for pedestrians. We must do everything we can to keep children safe and you can do your part by brushing up on traffic laws related school busses, school zones, and pedestrians.
Be aware of designated school zones – they will be clearly marked with signage and flashing lights alerting drivers. The speed limit in most local school zones is 15 miles per hour. The slow-speed zone is enforced half an hour before students are expected to arrive at school. Remember, this doesn’t just mean the official start of classes, but may be earlier for breakfast service. The school zone may be active for up to half an hour after class begins. In the afternoon, the school zone is active until 30 minutes after students are released. With elementary, middle, and high schools all starting and ending at different times, you may encounter several different school zones in your daily travels. The fine for speeding in a school zone is double that of speeding in most other areas.
Also remember that you can’t have your cell phone in your hand at all in a school zone – not only is it unsafe, but it is also illegal. This applies to calls, texts, and any other hands-on use of your phone, including navigation. If you must use a device in a school zone, it needs to be completely hands-free. Your full attention needs to be on the road and on pedestrians.
Crossing guards are stationed near schools as well as at intersections on the routes where children walk or bike to school. Crossing guards enter the crosswalk when it is safe to do so and ensure that children only cross the road when all traffic has stopped. Be alert for the crossing guard’s sign and whistle, and follow their directions. They are considered a traffic control device, the same as a stop sign, and their instructions should be followed for the safety of young pedestrians.
If you would like a rewarding part-time job helping to keep children safe, consider becoming a school crossing guard. You will receive uniforms, equipment, and training, and make $22 an hour. Contact Human Resources at 727-582-6208 for more information.
Along with pedestrians, there are many more school busses on the roads. The rules about when to stop for a school bus may seem confusing but they are actually simple. When you are driving behind a bus you must always stop when the bus activates its flashing red lights and displays its STOP signal, no matter how many lanes there are. However, if you are driving in the opposite, oncoming lanes, whether or not you stop depends on the median. If there is a raised median, physical barrier, or unpaved space at least five feet wide between lane directions you do not have to stop. Painted lines and pavement markings are not considered barriers. If that barrier is not there, oncoming traffic must stop. Failure to stop for a school bus carries a hefty fine and repeat offenses can result in a driver’s license suspension.
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