Aug. 20, 2013 — Schools all across Lassen County are back in session or will be in the next few days, and that means drivers should take extra caution when driving near schools.
Tom Downing, Susanville’s chief of police, reminds drivers to slow down in school zones and minimize distractions such as eating or texting. He also reminded pedestrians to obey all traffic laws. He said police officers will be out enforcing traffic laws in school zones.
Here are some tips for drivers to remember when driving in school zones.
The maximum speed limit in school zones is always 25 miles-per-hour when children are present. There are no exceptions.
It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to stop to load or unload children. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals motorists the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus.
Traffic in both directions must stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus. Stop your car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.
Never pass a school bus on the right. It is illegal and could have tragic consequences. Share the road safely with child pedestrians.
Be alert. Children are unpredictable. Children walking to or from their bus are usually very comfortable with their surroundings. This makes them more likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.
All drivers need to recognize the special safety needs of pedestrians, especially children. Young, elderly, disabled and intoxicated pedestrians are the most frequent victims in auto-pedestrian collisions. Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections; however, regardless of the rules of the road or right-of-way, you as a driver are obligated to exercise great care and extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians.
Drivers should not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. Do not stop with a portion of your vehicle over the crosswalk. Blocking the crosswalk forces pedestrians to go around your vehicle and puts them in a dangerous situation.
In a school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are blinking, drivers must stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk.
Always stop when directed to do so by a school patrol sign, school patrol officer or designated crossing guard. Children are the least predictable pedestrians and the most difficult to see. Take extra care to look out for children not only in school zones, but also in residential areas, playgrounds and parks.
Don’t honk your horn, rev your engine or do anything to rush or scare a pedestrian in front of your car, even if you have the legal right-of-way.
On most roadways, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other roadway users and often share the same lane, but bicycles can be hard to see. The riders are exposed and easily injured in a collision. Children riding bicycles create special problems for drivers because they are not capable of proper judgment in determining traffic conditions.
Let’s all do our part to ensure our children are safe going to and from school.
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