Fiol Law Group|Posted in Safety on September 10, 2019
The School season is in full swing, with millions of kids returning to classes in August and September. Whether you have school-aged children or not, it is important to refresh your knowledge of school zone driving tips to keep students in Tampa safe. Every year, distracted and negligent drivers cause school zone car accidents and related pedestrian injuries and deaths. Following a few simple tips could save a child’s life.
Obey the Speed Limit
School zones in Tampa have low speed limits for a reason. Driving any faster than 15 to 20 miles per hour (mph) can pose unnecessary risks to pedestrians. Speeding is one of the most dangerous school zone driver behaviors. A speeding driver may be unable to hit the brakes fast enough to avoid a collision if something unexpected happens, such as a child darting out into the road from behind a parked car.
Speeding can reduce a driver’s reaction times and put pedestrians in danger. If a speeding vehicle does strike a pedestrian, the victim’s injuries will likely be more severe than in a low-speed collision. Obeying the speed limit in a school zone is critical for keeping kids safe. It is also important if you wish to avoid a hefty speeding ticket. In Florida, the police will double the fines for speeding in school zones. They will not issue any warnings.
Going just one mile per hour over the speed limit could lead to a $50 fine. Speeding by 10 to 14 mph can result in a $200 ticket. Going 15 to 19 mph over is a $300 ticket, 20 to 29 mph is a $350 ticket and 30 to 49 over is a $500 fine for a first offense. If the police catch you driving 50 mph over the school zone speed limit, it is a $2,000 fine. Speeding in a school zone is also three to four points against your driver’s license.
Watch the Road
Although you should always keep your eyes on the road, it is especially important in precarious places such as school zones. Hundreds of children can walk in and near school zones at student drop-off and pick-up times. If the school zone lights are flashing, it means more children are on the road than usual. You must lower your speed and watch for crossing pedestrians.
Pay attention to the road and your surroundings. Put your phone away and do not look at a GPS. Avoid driver distractions and remain alert for children crossing the road at crosswalks and intersections. Follow any instructions from law enforcement officers, safety patrol officers or traffic controllers.
School zones come with a higher risk of pedestrian collisions than other areas in Tampa. Much like a busy downtown region, school zones can have a great deal of foot traffic. Unlike other places, however, most of the foot traffic is minors under 18. School-aged children can be unpredictable. They may not obey pedestrian rules or yield vehicles the rights-of-way. They may run out into the road or cross the street at places other than crosswalks and intersections. They may also walk distracted, using cellphones or headphones. Keep your speed low and stay vigilant in watching the road. Hover your foot over the brake to prepare to stop at any time.
Never Pass a Bus
Give school buses the reverence they deserve in and out of school zones. Drive cautiously behind and around school buses. Prepare for frequent stops. Never pass a stopped bus from behind. The child exiting the bus may need to cross the street to get home. If you are in the opposite lane on a two-lane road, you must also stop when a school bus stops, extends its stop signs and puts its lights on. A motorist illegally passing a bus is one of the main reasons children suffer injuries in school bus-related accidents.