Schools are in session at schools across Washington state and safety for children who are walking and bicycling to school must be a priority for all motorists. School zones – areas surrounding schools – alert motorists that children are present and requires them to slow down. School zones are often marked with signage and/or flashing lights and sometimes school crossing guards.
School zones prevent serious injuries and fatalities by requiring drivers to slow down. Studies show that if a car hit a person while traveling at 20mph, the fatality rate is 5 percent. As speeds increase, the fatality rate increases. At 30mph the fatality rate is 45 percent and increases to 85 percent at 40 mph.
Seattle has installed speed-enforcement cameras at a number of schools and has received around $14.8 million in revenue from the $189 fines that accompany speeding in school zones. They city plans to use this revenue to further enhance school zone safety.
Safety Around School Buses
Remember when you see a school bus:
- Do not pass a school bus with flash lights and arm extended.
- On undivided roads, all lanes of traffic must stop for school bus flashing lights.
- Yellow flashing lights indicate that the school bus will be stopping to load or unload children and motorists should prepare to stop.
- Red flashing lights indicate that the school bus is stopped children are getting on or off the bus at this time. Children can be unpredictable and can dash across the street without looking before or after boa4rding their bus so motorists. Motorists must remain stopped until the lights are no longer flashing.
- School bus drivers are allowed, by law, to report a violation if motorists do not properly stop for flashing lights.
Tips for Motorists in School Zones
- Motorists must stop for pedestrians at crosswalks regardless of whether the crosswalk is marked or unmarked. Every intersection is a crosswalk regardless of whether it is marked.
- Pedestrians have the right of way and drivers must yield to them when turning.
- Drivers should scan the roadway and sidewalks when driving near schools during school arrival and dismissal. Children can be unpredictable and dart from between parked cars to greet a friend.