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School Zone Safety Driving Tips

By Butler Prather LLP on April 9, 2019

Passing through Atlanta’s school zones comes with certain rules and regulations drivers must obey – or else risk the lives of parents, children, and other pedestrians. In 2015, teens accounted for almost 50% of pedestrian fatalities. School zones are critical areas that demand special attention from drivers. They are areas with high volumes of children walking around and crossing the streets. Failing to pay attention in a school zone could lead to traffic citations and fines…or worse, a serious pedestrian accident.

Always Obey the Speed Limit

Posted speed limits in school zones should not exceed 20 miles per hour. Some school zones have even lower speed limits. Always obey the posted speed limit when passing through school zones, as they are in place to protect pedestrians. Driving at a slower speed gives you more time to react to unexpected situations, such as a child darting out from behind parked vehicles. Slow speeds increase the odds of a vehicle stopping in time to prevent colliding with a pedestrian. Speeding through a school zone in Atlanta is a serious infraction that can result in hefty fines.

Watch for Crossing Pedestrians

Hundreds of pedestrians can walk through school zones in a day. Most school zones have signs detailing the peak hours of pedestrian traffic – usually before and after school. Always be on the lookout for crossing pedestrians, and not just at crosswalks. A Safe Kids Worldwide study observed that about 80% of students engaged in unsafe street crossing behavior. One in four high school students engaged in distracted walking.

Look out for students who may jaywalk or break other school zone rules. You cannot assume pedestrians will follow the rules or pay enough attention to yield the right-of-way to crossing vehicles. Instead, assume a walking pedestrian will step out into the road without looking. Be prepared to stop at all times. At crosswalks, come to a complete stop and check for oncoming pedestrians. Wait until pedestrians have completely exited the crosswalk to proceed.

Never Drive Distracted

Distracted driving killed 3,166 people in 2017. Many of these victims were pedestrians. Texting, eating, personal grooming, talking, looking at a GPS, fiddling with the radio, or checking emails while driving can all cause pedestrian collisions in school zones. It is critical for drivers to keep both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel at all times – especially in school zones. Never text and drive or engage in other behaviors that could distract you from the driving task. Driving distracted is dangerous everywhere, but especially around vulnerable students, children, and pedestrians in school zones.

Follow All Pick Up and Drop Off Policies

Most schools enforce special pick up and drop off policies to increase the safety of students. Too many vehicles and people swarming around one area could result in collisions. It is important to follow any posted signs, painted arrows, and other traffic devices in place in your school zone. Do not speed, drive the wrong way on a one-way route, or cut other parents off in the pickup line. Never swerve around a stopped car. The vehicle might have stopped to allow a pedestrian to pass. Obey all signals from parking lot attendants, police officers, crossing guards, and/or safety patrol students.

Never Pass a Bus

It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a stopped school bus from behind. When a school bus stops, with its lights flashing and stop signs extended, you must stop and wait until the bus has taken off again. The bus is loading or unloading children at this time. Passing the bus could lead to you striking crossing children. If you are on a two-lane highway, you must stop for a stopped bus in both lanes. Safe driving around school buses can save lives.

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