TRAFFIC SAFETY IN SCHOOL ZONES

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More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program.

It goes without saying that once school starts there is an increase in traffic congestion in school zones and in residential areas during drop-off and pick-up times.  This includes increased vehicles on the road and in parking lots, foot traffic on sidewalks and in crosswalks, and bicycle traffic.  This requires extra vigilance on the part of all drivers, as not only do drivers need to focus on the road, but they also need to focus on their surroundings, which includes an increase in children on their way to and from school. 

Taking extra precautions when driving in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, in residential areas, and all areas where children may be can save lives and prevent injuries. 

Safe Driving Tips

·         Never pass a stopped school bus loading and unloading children when the stop sign is extended and its lights are flashing.  Please, use extreme caution around all school buses, stopped, slowing, or otherwise, even if the s top sign is not extended.

·         Don't stop in a crosswalk. Doing so causes pedestrians to have to go around the vehicle which may put them in the path of moving traffic.

·         Pedestrians always have the right-of-way. When Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons are flashing at intersections, drivers are required to yield.

·         Crossing guards manage intersections where children are faced with the most risk.  The crossing guard is always the first person on the street and the last person off.  Do not drive through the crosswalk until everyone, including the crossing guard, is off the street.  Montana Law provides that "a person may not operate a vehicle through a column of school children crossing a roadway or past a school crossing guard while the crossing guard is directing the movement of children across a roadway and while the crossing guard is holding an official sign in the stop position." M.C.A. 61-8-502(3)

·         Always obey the posted speed limit signs.

·         Rid yourself of all distractions when driving in a school zone. 

·         Always be on the lookout for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling, especially children who may have a tendency to do this. 

·         Turn your lights on so you can be seen more easily by other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Also, it is important to take the time to teach children about traffic safety and school bus rules to help reduce the likelihood that your child will be the victim of a dangerous situation.  Some safety tips to talk to children about include:

·         Always use crosswalks when available and obey traffic signals and crossing guards.  Don't cross between stationary vehicles.

·         Pay attention.  For example, do not kick or dribble a ball while walking.  Do not walk and text/email.

·         Listen for vehicles.  You may not always be able to see an oncoming vehicle.  You should also listen for vehicles approaching.  Do not wear headphones that cancel out traffic noise.

·         Stop at intersections, make sure all vehicles have stopped, and make eye contact with drivers before crossing.  Making eye contact will help establish a line of communication between the pedestrian and the driver so the pedestrian knows that the driver sees them.

·         Be seen - wear light colored clothing and reflective material when walking or biking.

·        Always wear a helmet when riding a bike and use the bicycle lane.

If you or your child has suffered injuries resulting from a motor vehicle in a school zone contact Paoli Law Firm today.  406-542-3330

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