Labor Day is upon us and school will soon be back in session, which means increased child pedestrian and bicycle activity and traffic congestion in school zones. With more than half of those pedestrians and bicyclist under the age of 14, it is essential for drivers to be cautions and alert, especially during the morning and afternoon “commute” hours, when school zone congestion and activity involving school aged children is at its highest. Child pedestrians and bicyclists are at higher risk for injuries than adults for several reasons:
Children’s smaller size makes them difficult for drivers to see. Watch for children standing between parked cars on the side of the road, or darting into the road from playgrounds, alleys and side streets.
Lack of Judgment:
Children have a harder time judging distances and vehicle speeds because of their age and development. This can result in misjudging whether it’s safe to cross the street. Slow down whenever children are present.
Lack of Experience:
Children too young for driver’s education have little to no knowledge of traffic rules. It is critical that drivers keep this in mind whenever children are present, and not assume they will obey the “rules of the road.” Drivers should always yield the right–of-way to pedestrians, especially children.
Some other tips to keep children and school zones safe:
- Obey the Speed Limit. The speed limit in a school zone in Washington is 20 miles per hour when school is in session. Speed violations in school zones are double the normal fine.¹
- Come to a complete stop at all intersections with stop signs.
- Always stop for school buses when loading or unloading passengers. It’s the law.²
- Eliminate driver distractions. Don’t text or talk on your cell phone, especially when driving in school zones. Studies show that taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
- Anticipate delays. Plan ahead and leave early for your destination. Change your travel route to avoid school zones if possible.
Please do your part in ensuring the safety of school age children returning to classes this Fall!
1. Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.440(1) and (2).
2. Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.370 (1).