Motorists can assist in keeping our kids safe each day by obeying the laws concerning the school zones. In our busy lives sometimes we all forget how hazardous our vehicles can be to these youngsters. You can help by remembering these simple guidelines:
- Cell phone use in a school zone is prohibited. This includes texting.
- Stay Alert - Watch for small children. Children under the age of eight believe that if they can see you, then you can see them so they often dart out from behind a parked car.
- Slow Down - Obey the MAXIMUM speed limit in school zones and the 30 mile per hour MAXIMUM speed limit on residential streets.
- Do Not Stop or Park on a Crosswalk - This is against the law. All vehicles must stop 20’ in advance of the crosswalk.
- Be Patient - Proceed into the crosswalk or intersection ONLY after ALL pedestrians are all clear of the crosswalk and the intersection can be completely crossed.
- Obey the Crossing Guards and School Officials - They are there to protect the children but can only do so with your cooperation. It is a violation of State Law to "willfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction to stop and yield to pedestrians given by any School Crossing Guard while in performance of his duties in a designated school-crossing zone".
- Don’t stop in the travel lane even if you are just dropping off or picking up students. This slows down traffic and delays everyone.
According to James Rogge, Traffic Engineer for the City of Abilene, crossing guards say that the top two rule infractions that they continually see are motorists being on their cell phones while in school zones and speeding.
One mom that lives across from an Abilene school says that she does not see that many people on their phones or speeding through the school zone in her area, but she does have a few concerns. "People park on the right side to pick their kids up. The only thing I see is when people don't want to sit in line, they have already gotten their kids, they will go around them on the left. The only thing I worry about is a little kid going between the cars and not seeing the other car coming and them accidentally hitting a little kid," explains Kaylyn Gwinn.
Rogge pleads with drivers to pay attention to the road and to slow down, even if you have already picked your children up. "They are our future and not paying attention risks everybody. I mean sure, its not your kid, but its someone else's kid, so you need to take that into consideration."
Last school year in Abilene, there were three children hit while in cross walks or school zones. One of those children did have to be transported to the hospital to receive medical treatment. There were two young girls that were hit by a vehicle while in a cross walk last summer (2013) as well.
According to TxDOT, there were 625 vehicle crashes occurred in school zones in Texas, resulting in two deaths and 112 serious injuries. In August and September of 2013 alone, there were 104 crashes in school zones.