In a family friendly community like Rio Rancho, kids on their way to and from school is a typical sight. Kids’ routes to school follow some of the busiest arteries in the city, whether they’re attending Vista Grande Elementary School in the northernmost reaches of the City of Vision along U.S. 550 or Joe Harris Elementary School in the south. School zones are hazardous to children. These sections are established to make roads safer for children walking and riding to school. Read on to learn more about school zone safety.
School Zone Dangers
The Transportation Research Board reports that more than 100 children a year are killed walking to and from school; some 25,000 are injured. Why are school zones dangerous?
For a few reasons:
1. Students walking to school are distracted. A 2016 study found that, out of a sample of 39,000 middle and high school students, 80 percent crossed the street in an unsafe manner. Technology is the culprit. While walking, they’re often wearing headphones or looking down at their phones, which makes them unaware of their surroundings.
2. Drivers are also distracted. The same study found that a third of drivers in school zones engage in unsafe behavior such as double parking or stopping in the middle of a crosswalk. Drivers are often focused on their children, not their driving, and/or their phones.
3. Drivers may not be aware of school zone speed limit changes. Because speed limits change within school zones and only during certain hours, drivers may not be aware of these changes. The lack of traffic control devices only enhances this hazard. A quarter of high schools don’t have a traffic control device at pedestrian crossings.
How to Stay Safe in a School Zone as a Driver
Here are a few tips to stay safe in school zones whether you’re dropping your kids off at school or commuting through a school zone:
- Be aware of posted speed limits. School zones vary in speed limits. Some require 15 miles per hour, while others ask drivers to proceed at 25 miles an hour. If you’re driving near a school, check for posted speed limits and enforcement times.
- Put down your phone. Distracted driving and school zones aren’t a good combination. Children are distracted enough. You should stay vigilant.
- Watch for pedestrians. Although most pedestrian traffic occurs before and after school, not all students will use crosswalks at the proper time. Additionally, not all students use crosswalks, so it’s wise to treat the entire school zone with care. Pedestrians have the right of way in these areas.
- Treat parked cars with caution. Children may hop out of parked cars unexpectedly to suddenly appear next to them to jump in for their ride home. Drive slowly and scan the area for children moving around on sidewalks, in the street, and around parked cars.
- Don’t block the crosswalk if you stop at a signal or sign. This could push pedestrians into moving traffic.
- Follow the instructions of school patrol offices and crossing guards.
- Don’t pass vehicles that have stopped for pedestrians.
- If you’re dropping off, don’t stop in the middle of the school zone, double park, or let students out in any areas other than the set zones.
How to Stay Safe in a School Zone as a Pedestrian
Here are a few tips to use when walking your kid to school or to teach him/her if she’s walking on his/her own:
- Only cross in designated crosswalks and/or at the instruction of a school patrol officer or crossing guard.
- Put your phone down. Don’t assume drivers are paying attention and will see you. Stay vigilant to make sure the roadway is safe before crossing.
- Watch carefully for drivers when entering or exiting a parked vehicle.
- If your child is meeting a driver, make sure they only meet the driver in designated pick-up/drop-off zones.
- If your school zone doesn’t have appropriate traffic signals, discuss with the school board or administrators for proper signage and enforcement.
How Sanchez and Piñon Can Help
If you’ve experienced a traffic collision or pedestrian accident in a school zone and are seeking representation, contact Sanchez and Piñon, Rio Rancho’s auto accident and injury attorneys, for a free consultation. While other attorneys talk, we listen and provide a personal level of representation. We can discuss how to fight for the compensation you deserve.