The end of summer vacation arrives too quickly for most of us in Wisconsin. It can also be an exciting time of year for children and their parents as they prepare for the upcoming school year. With students across the state returning back to school, it’s important to remind drivers to be extra careful.
In 2013, more than 330 child pedestrians died and another 13,000 were injured while going to or from school. Over the last decade, about one-third of the children were killed between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Here are five tips to keep yourself and your children safe this school year.
1. Slow down. School zone speed limits are much lower than other parts of the road. According to safemotorists.com the legal speed limit that motorists must obey in Wisconsin is 15 MPH in the following scenarios:
- When passing a school when children are going to or from school or are playing within the sidewalk area near the school.
- When passing an intersection marked with a "school crossing" sign when children are present.
2. Eliminate distractions. Both distracted driving and distracted walking with people on their smartphones are a growing problem across the country. Be sure to read our blog post 4 Tips to Avoid Driving and Texting for more tips on how to limit distracted driving.
3. Come to a complete stop at stop signs. AAA reports that one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. In an effort to crack down on the number of rolling stops in school zones, many municipalities across the country have installed stop-sign cameras near schools that can ticket you for not stopping completely at the stop sign. It’s worth noting that in Wisconsin the penalty for committing such a traffic violation is doubled.
4. Watch out for bicycles (especially when backing up). Particularly in busier regions of the state such as Madison and Milwaukee where bicyclists have grown significantly in recent years.
As said by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee traffic safety researcher Robert J. Schneider: "Everyone needs to see that traffic safety is important for the whole community. We're all out there, and we need to look out for our neighbors. It's important for drivers to see pedestrians and bicyclists on the roadway and be careful around them."
5. Never drive around a stopped school bus. A vehicle owner can be cited when the driver of a car passes a school bus illegally. A law enforcement officer need not witness this violation if the school bus driver reports it to the law enforcement agency within 24 hours. Fines can be quite high for illegally passing a school bus, but the risk of hitting a child is even higher.