Research has shown that accidents in school zones have gone down in the past 20 years. Despite this, concerns still exist about crossing behaviors that may increase the risk of accidents among students in school zones. Aside from distracted or negligent drivers, accidents also happen since the students are also distracted by their smartphones while walking the school zones.
With this, there is a growing need to improve school zones to prevent accidents similar to what happened in the University of Florida where a student was brought to the hospital after getting struck by a vehicle while crossing a street.
While the mishap may warrant the hiring of a lawyer focused on pedestrian accidents to get the necessary compensation, it is important to make improvements to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. Here are some things that the authorities and school officials can do to make school zones safer.
Make Traffic Signs Visible
Traffic signs are important to make people safer when they cross the street. It is essential in school zones to keep the students safe. Due to this, the traffic signs in the school zone should be visible to all motorists.
These traffic signs serve as a reminder for motorists to drive carefully, especially in crosswalks. Ut also directs pedestrians where they can cross to ensure their safety. Part 7 of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) of the Federal Highway Administration shows the importance of these traffic devices.
The authoritative guide provides local and state officials general rules to follow when keeping school zones safe. But these officials can also add to these rules depending on the situation in their jurisdictions. The MUTCD may regulate school zones, local and state officials should implement the guidelines in their territories. Part 7 of the MUTCD also highlights the importance of using traffic signs properly because the motorists will not follow them anymore if they see these signs often.
Set Up Speed Limit Signs
Speed is a major factor that can cause accidents that lead to injury or death among pedestrians. Even as higher speed does not normally increase the number of accidents, it can play a role in the severity of an injury. Thus, it is important to put up speed limit signs in the school zone to warn motorists of a nearby school zone.
Following a spate of accidents at the University of Florida, agencies mulled at the possibility of decreasing speed limits in the area. Typically, the speed limits in school zones are from 15 mph up to 25 mph in many US states. The speed limits are designed to protect students as they cross the street since it gives drivers ample time to speed on the break once someone is using the crosswalk.
However, motorists may develop “sign blindness” when they often see the same sign on the streets. Due to this, flasher speed limits can be used in these areas, which integrate speed limit signs that are brightly lit to ensure it catches a motorist’s attention. Additionally, using speed bumps can also provide motorists another reminder that they are entering a school zone.
Advance Warning Signs
School administrators can suggest that local authorities use warning signs to inform motorists that they are approaching a school zone. These early warning signs should also advise motorists of a crosswalk up ahead so that they can become more observant of the area when they approach it.
The MUTCD requires using these signs in progression. It also recommends using yellow-green color for the sign since it is highly visible. The early warning signs should be set up before the first crosswalk on the street. Additionally, it should only be used on crossings within school zones.
These safety signs should also be set up close to intersections that are dangerous areas for the students. With this, school administrators should gather information to know where they can use these signs within their jurisdiction and inform local or state officials about them.
School Zone Safety Measures
Aside from signs, school administrators should also work with local officials to implement safety measures to protect the students. One of these measures is the assignment of crossing guards in school zones. While these guards may benefit younger children the most, they may help older students who tend to become distracted by their smartphones. In addition to helping students cross the street, these guards can also hold drivers’ attention due to the bright-colored vest they wear while standing close to a crosswalk.
Keeping pedestrians safe is important, especially in a school zone. Due to this, school administrators and local officials should work together to increase safety measures to prevent accidents near schools.