7 School Zone Safety Tips for PA Drivers

August 21st, 2023

photo of yellow school bus

7 Safe Driving Tips for a Safe & Secure School Zone

Updated for 2023

Driving cautiously in school zones isn’t just mandatory in Pennsylvania but across the country. According to the Transportation Research Board, 25,000 children are injured while walking to or from school every year, and more than 100 are killed.

As the start of Pennsylvania’s 2023-2024 school year grows closer, it’s time to start preparing for more motorists and pedestrians on the road. Since school zones are less crowded in the summer, now is an excellent time to remind ourselves of the precautions we can take to avoid accidents and injuries as these areas become more populated.

Follow the tips below to ensure you do your part to help keep children, teachers, and staff safe in the streets surrounding their school while on the road.

Reduce your speed in school zones. Every school zone’s speed limit in Pennsylvania is 15 miles per hour. People who violate these limits could face fines of up to $500 and have points added to their driving record. To avoid these penalties, make sure you reduce your speed. During school hours, you’ll notice speed limit signs with flashing yellow lights. These signals remind you to slow down to ensure the safety of students, teachers, parents, crossing guards, and other pedestrians. When they are adhered to, they can help drivers avoid crashes and decrease the severity of accidents or injuries if they occur.

Always be ready to stop for students. Children of all ages often fail to think about safe pedestrian etiquette when headed to and from school. Elementary school students may forget to look both ways before darting across the street to their friends, while high school students are often distracted by their phones. As a motorist, you must stay alert and prepare to stop for students who rush into the street.

Don’t block crosswalks. School zones are crowded with pedestrians and motorists at the start and end of the school day. During these times, you must not block crosswalks. Students in a rush might try to continue crossing by going around and slipping through vehicles. These tactics put them in potential danger, especially if they enter a car’s blind spot and the driver isn’t paying attention. To help avoid these risky situations, leave the crosswalks open for students to cross safely.

Stop for buses. Buses in a school zone can stop to pick up or drop off children at any moment. When school buses are idling with their stop arm extended and red flashing lights on, you must stop your vehicle 10 feet away from them. You must also stop for buses at intersections regardless of the direction they are going in. It is okay to continue driving when the bus has turned its lights off, pulled in its stop arm, and all children are off the road and safely on the sidewalk.

Eliminate distractions. When entering a school zone, it is crucial to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Turn off your radio or music to hear children or buses approaching. Keep your eyes on the road and both hands on the steering wheel, and refrain from texting, answering calls, eating, and drinking.

Use your headlights. Some school start times can be as early as 7:30 a.m., and depending on the time of year, the sun is still rising. Turning on your headlights at the appropriate times can increase the visibility of other drivers and pedestrians.

Exercise patience. Getting stuck behind a school bus making frequent stops or running into school zone traffic can be frustrating. It can also cause drivers to rush and act recklessly to reach their destination. To avoid this frustration, exercise patience and give yourself extra time to account for potential delays.

School Safety Zone Reminders for Students

Drivers aren’t the only people who should practice safe behaviors in school zones this year. If you are a student heading back to school, make sure you follow these rules to protect yourself and those around you:

• Look both ways before crossing the street. Wait until vehicles heading in both directions are fully stopped before proceeding to cross.
• Always cross the street at crosswalks. If a vehicle is blocking the crosswalk, wait until they move to cross safely.
• Avoid looking at your cell phone. Put all electronic devices in your pocket or backpack until you enter your school building.
• Always cross the street in front of your bus when you are getting on or off. Never walk behind your school bus because your driver won’t be able to tell if you’ve made it to a safe destination.

If you or a loved one was injured in a school zone-related accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Flager & Associates today by calling (215) 953-5200. We provide free case evaluations.

Adam Flager, Esq.Written by Adam D. Flager, Esq., Associate at Flager & Associates, PC

With his practice focused on litigation, Adam primarily represents clients in personal injury cases, such as motor vehicle, slip and fall, defective products, and construction and worksite accidents. He is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State of New Jersey, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the District of New Jersey, and the United States Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit. Adam received his J.D. from Widener University School of Law in 2009, where he graduated with pro-Bono Distinction.

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