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Defensive Driving Tip 11 – School Zones

If there is one moment during the day when drivers should be completely and totally aware of what’s going on around them, it’s when they are driving through a school zone.

Being aware is never more important than when travelling through a school zone.

There is a reason that the posted school zone limit nationwide is 15-25 m.p.h. There are children present who are arriving or leaving school, and they — or their parents — shouldn’t have to worry about them getting hit by unaware drivers who are speeding, talking on their cell phones, eating, or conversing with their passengers.

The last thing you want to do is to hit a child or a group of children, because you weren’t paying attention or obeying the laws as they apply to school zones.

comedy guys defensive driving tips, school zonesEvery school has signs warning you that you are about to enter a school zone. Most signs in Texas either say “20 M.P.H. Between the Hours of…” or “20 M.P.H. When Flashing”. You should obey these signs to the letter, if not for the children’s sake, then to make sure that you don’t get a traffic ticket.

Most people that drive through school zones are either dropping their children off or picking them up, or have to go through one to get to work and home again. If you are one of these drivers, then you are familiar with the area and know when you are about to enter the school zone, so you should prepare yourself. First of all…PUT THE PHONE DOWN! Even if you have a hands-free set, stop talking. You can find out later what who said about whom. If you and a passenger have been conversing, it’s time to be quiet and start using your eyes, hands, and feet at the same time. Your eyes should be constantly moving left, right, and center, in case a child or group of children decide to run across the street in front of you. Both hands should be on the steering wheel in case you need to swerve suddenly, and your foot should be ready to move from the accelerator to the brake in less than a second.

Basically, this is the way you should always drive.

Even if you drive through the same school zone day in and day out, you should treat it as if it’s the first time you’ve ever been in it. You may have driven through it one hundred times straight without incident, but who knows? On the hundred and first day, a child might suddenly dart out in front of you or the car ahead of you might have to suddenly slam on its brakes or swerve into the next lane. This is why you drive cautiously through a school zone. You never know what’s going to happen. Can any one of you honestly say you know what a child is going to do from one moment to the next?

Many people end up in defensive driving classes because they got tickets at a traffic light inside the school zone. In the old days, there was either a stop sign in the school zone or a crossing guard would walk out in the middle of the street and hold up his/her sign whereby you would stop as he walked the school children across the street. Now, many school zones have stoplights in them, which is all fine and well, but the problem is that, when people sit at a red light for thirty seconds to a minute, they have a tendency to forget where they are, and punch it as soon as the light turns green, and with today’s cars, it takes only seconds for an automobile to hit 30 M.P.H. A driver needs to be aware of this, and remember that they are still in a school zone, because, again, you never know when a child is going to run across the street.

Another item about school zones, albeit a bit unfair, is that if the school zone light has a malfunction and goes off in the middle of the night, a police officer can still write you a citation for going over 20 m.p.h. More than likely, a judge will drop the ticket, but who needs the hassle of going to court?

In some school zones, it is illegal to either change lanes or pass a car. This means that if the car in the lane next to you is only doing 15 m.p.h., you can not pass it. A child might only see the one car and not realize that the car he can’t see is going faster and might dart across the street believing he can beat the car, only to get hit by the faster moving vehicle. Whether it’s a traffic offense or not, these are good rules to apply to your school zone driving.

comedy guys defensive driving tips, school zonesAlways watch for school buses, too. Whether in a school zone or not, be aware of a school bus. They come in all shapes and sizes depending on the size of the school and each one of them needs your special attention. Most drivers are aware of school buses when they are on the road with them, but many drivers aren’t. They are too busy trying to reach their destination, or talking on their cell phones, or dealing with their children to take notice.

When the school bus stops, it will either have flashing red lights warning you that it is about to stop, or a red, metal stop sign will extend from the side of the door. Drivers must stop if they are behind the school bus and wait for the lights to stop flashing, the stop sign to retract, and the bus to start moving.

comedy guys defensive driving, school zonesOn streets where traffic moves in both directions, then drivers moving in both directions much stop for the bus. This includes streets with a single lane in either direction or multi-lane streets with no median. If the street is six or eight lanes across, then the cars in all lanes have to stop for the bus.

On divided streets WITH a median, only the drivers moving in the same direction as the bus have to stop. Drivers on the other side of the median may continue on, unless they are intending to turn left in front of the bus. Those drivers have to wait for the bus to move on before turning.

comedy guys defensive driving tips, school zones

Remember, you don’t want to cause any injury to a child, so pay attention, obey the rules, and drive carefully through school zones.