We place a high value on our children and signify that with school and playground zones. Traffic is required to slow to the lowest speed limit that we normally post and drivers are expected to pay more attention than usual. Students must get to and from school safely. Having said that, sometimes the greatest danger in a school zone is presented by parents and teachers.
One sunny morning I was conducting speed enforcement in an elementary school zone. Shortly after 8 a.m. I caught my first offender, a teacher from that school. She was less than impressed with being ticketed and said so.
Shortly after the teacher entered the school the principal came out and approached my police car. He thanked me for working in the school zone and invited me to return often. By the way, the teacher you ticketed is expecting me to tell you to get lost. She doesn’t need to know what I really said, does she?
When I was the parent picking up and dropping off at the school I often watched the confusion as the same “me first” attitude that I saw on the highways played out in the school parking lot. Waiting in line or following the lines was something for others to do. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the way or the wrong place, I’ll only be here for a moment.
The education that our children receive in these circumstances definitely depends on where they are viewing it from.
The lime yellow pentagon is the standard sign used to mark school zones. What a driver must do depends on the tab, if any, placed below it.
If there is no tab at all, the driver should proceed with extra caution at any time of the day or day of the week.
Black on yellow tabs are advisory. You may choose to follow their advice depending on the circumstances that you find at the time.
Black on white tabs are regulatory. You must follow their direction without fail.
Regulatory tabs are in effect on a regular school day. These are days in the school calendar set by the individual school districts and include sports days and Pro D days. The safe bet is to follow them on any day, Monday through Friday, that is not a statutory holiday.
School crosswalks, marked and unmarked, are another consideration. They are often controlled by crossing guards and you must obey the guard’s direction. When a guard is not present it’s probably best to expect the unexpected. It doesn’t matter if you are a driver or a pedestrian: stop, look, listen, make eye contact and proceed only when safe.
Finally, we’d better have a quick look at the school bus too. You may see flashing red lights, which we should all understand to mean stop and not pass the bus until they are turned off.
You may also see a flashing white light on the rear third of the bus roof. Its job is to help identify the school bus during bad weather or when stationary. The bus driver should use it when the flashing red lights are also turned on.
This concludes our lesson for the day class, do you have any questions?