[8/30/17] School Zones and You

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As students  head back to school this week, drivers are reminded to slow down and watch for kids.  There will be an increase in vehicle and pedestrian traffic around schools.  Use extra caution to ensure kids get to school safely.  The Washington State Patrol cannot stress enough how important it is to practice safe driving, especially when children are present.

“School Zones” have a 20 mile per hour speed limit when lights are flashing or children are present.  All speed related fines double in “School Zones”.  State law requires drivers to stop for buses loading or unloading children.  Failure to stop for a bus with flashing red lights and stop paddle will result in a $419 ticket.  The law states both of these tickets cannot be reduced, suspended, or waived, meaning if you get a ticket, you will pay the full amount.

Drivers need to minimize distractions within their vehicles.  Drivers must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and should not block intersections. Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.  Following these safety rules can help ensure children get to school safely.

Family and friends are encouraged to share the following important safety tips with their students.  Whether children walk, ride their bicycle or take the bus to school, it’s important they, and the motorists around them, take proper safety precautions.

Walkers:

  • Walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk and you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic
  • Before crossing the street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if cars are coming
  • Never run out in front of a parked car
  • Parents: Practice walking to school with your child, crossing streets at crosswalks when available
  • Never walk while texting or talking on the phone
  • Do not walk while using headphones

Bike Riders:

  • Always wear a properly fitted helmet
  • Children need to know the rules of the road: Ride single file on the right side of the road, come to a complete stop before crossing the street and walk the bike across
  • Watch for opening car doors and other hazards
  • Use hand signals when turning
  • Wear bright-colored clothing

Bus Riders:

  • Teach children the proper way to get on and off the bus
  • Line up 6 feet away from the curb as the bus approaches
  • Wait for the bus to stop completely before approaching the bus
  • Confirm the bus driver acknowledges you before crossing in front of the bus

Teen Drivers:
Distracted driving is the leading cause of traffic fatalities among teen drivers.  Talk to your teen drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and help minimize those distractions.