School zones see an increase in pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic, creating the potential for a tragedy when drivers are negligent.
A Pennsylvania community continues to grieve following the loss of a 15-year-old student. According to WPXI, the young man was in front of a high school in McKeesport when a school bus struck him. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died.
School zones are in place to protect students as they go to and from classes. It is important to know the laws associated with these areas and teach students about traffic safety.
Know the danger
School zones have an increase of both pedestrians and traffic as children cross roads and parents pick up or drop off students. Safe Kids Worldwide conducted a survey in 2009 that found that one in six drivers moving through a school zone is distracted. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that about 100 children ages 5 to 18 who either walk or ride their bikes to school will be killed en route.
Pennsylvania school zone laws
Under Pennsylvania law, school zones may establish a 15 miles per hour speed limit during the times in which students are either arriving at or leaving school. Traffic must be alerted to the speed limit through signs posted either over the roadway or on the right side of the roadway. There must also be a sign that indicates the end of the school zone. Exceeding the posted limit could result in a fine as well as three points on a driver’s license and a 60-day license suspension if the driver has a previous school zone speeding offense.
It is also important to point out that texting while driving is illegal for all drivers in Pennsylvania.
Safety tips for student pedestrians
Safe Kids Worldwide offers a number of tips for students on foot. For example, no child who is younger than 10 should cross the road without an adult. Developmentally, most children at that age lack the capacity to determine how fast cars are moving or to understand traffic laws. Additional tips include the following:
- Children should learn how to safely cross the street, looking left, right and left again.
- Children should try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing, ensuring that the driver has seen them.
- Children should use crosswalks and sidewalks whenever possible.
Just as driving distracted in a school zone is dangerous, so is walking while distracted. Safe Kids Worldwide advises children to put away headphones, cellphones and any other device when crossing or walking along the road.
Both motorists and students play a role in ensuring that school zones are accident-free areas. When an incident does occur, Pennsylvania law permits victims or their families to take legal action against the negligent party. Anyone who has questions about the matter should consult with an attorney.