5 Things All Drivers Should Know about School Zones in Tennessee

Posted in Bus Accident,Car Accident on January 31, 2018

Per a report by Clarksville Now, the Clarksville Police Department recently received several calls and complaints concerning drivers who violated traffic laws in school zones or while driving near school buses.

At Matt Hardin Law, our Clarksville auto accident lawyers know how important school zones and school buses are when it comes to protecting students who are going to and from class every day in Montgomery County and throughout the mid-state area.

Because young children and adolescents face some of the highest risks of all age groups when crossing streets or walking near traffic, school zones have strict laws and enforcement to ensure that drivers pass through them cautiously and alertly.

However, some drivers fail to abide by the special traffic laws pertaining to school zones and school buses, putting themselves, other drivers, children, and crossing guards at risk.

If your child was injured in a school zone due to a negligent driver, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. Contact us today to find out how we can put our 30 years of experience to work for you. Just dial (931) 274-7788 or complete a free online contact form.

Avoid Tickets and Accidents—Keep These Facts in Mind

School zones are supposed to be safe areas for students when they’re walking to and from school in the mornings and afternoons. They’re often located in prominent residential areas, including neighborhoods and subdivisions, near bus stops, and directly in front of schools. That means many drivers pass through them every day.

School zones are often heavily patrolled by law enforcement officers who are on the lookout for drivers who speed, fail to come to complete stops when required to do so, or pass stopped school buses that are loading or unloading students.

You can reduce your risk of causing an accident that harms you, another driver, or a student—not to mention eliminate your chances of getting a citation—by remembering these facts the next time you drive through a school zone:

  1. School zones have speed limits of 20 mph unless otherwise posted – No matter what the speed limit of a specific roadway is outside of school zone hours, almost all have maximum speed limits of 20 mph when children are present. Drivers who speed through school zones or who pass stopped school buses face serious traffic law violation charges, including reckless driving. Fines can range from $250 up to $1,000, with average citations costing around $470.
  2. It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving through an active school zone – Tennessee’s legislature recently passed a law banning the use of handheld mobile phones in marked school zones with active flashing lights. Drivers who violate this law can be stopped and cited, even if they aren’t speeding or violating any other school zone-related traffic laws. Distraction is one of the biggest causes of all types of crashes, including school zone accidents, and putting away cellphones helps drivers focus on the road, crossing guards, and nearby children.
  3. Crossing guards overrule stop signs and traffic lights – When you’re passing through a school zone, remember that the crossing guard is the ultimate authority on who has the right of way and when traffic is allowed to proceed. They take precedent over traffic lights and traditional right of way processes at stop signs, yield signs, and roundabouts. Crossing guards communicate with drivers in several different ways, including hand motions, whistles, signs, and even verbal communication. Always be on the lookout for a crossing guard when you enter a school zone, even if you’re approaching an intersection equipped with traffic lights or a stop sign.
  4. Passing buses that are loading or unloading children is illegal – Buses that are in the process of loading or unloading children make that fact clear to drivers via flashing red lights or by extending stop signs. However, some drivers still attempt to pass them, putting children in harm’s way. Buses make frequent stops, and because they’re often on their routes at the same time that drivers are trying to get to or from work, they can cause delays. But no matter how much a bus is slowing down your commute, you should never pass one while it’s stopped on either the left or right side, as doing so is both a public safety hazard and can result in an expensive and serious citation.
  5. Kids can run out into the roadway at any time – Safety isn’t always the top priority for children, regardless of their age. From kindergarteners to high schoolers, children are often more impulsive than adults and more likely to engage in dangerous activities, including stepping off sidewalks or bus stops and into the path of traffic while playing with friends or while attempting to cross the street. Because of those tendencies, it’s important to be cautious no matter where you are in a school zone. In fact, you should be on alert when driving through any residential area where children are likely to be present, even if it’s not an active school zone.

Make sure your children are also aware of the dangers they face when they walk to or from school and their bus stop. While most drivers are attentive and cautious while passing through school zones, some aren’t, and all it takes is one negligent or aggressive driver to cause a serious accident.

Students Face Greater Risks near Buses Than They Do Riding Them

School bus safety gets a lot of attention, as many parents are understandably cautious about letting their children ride in large vehicles that may not be equipped with seat belts. But studies show that school buses are the safest way for children to get to school compared to riding with parents or guardians, carpooling, or walking.

However, students do face significant risks when walking to their bus stops, entering their buses, or exiting their buses.

It’s up to drivers to be as alert and cautious as possible when passing through school zones or when driving near school buses, and for parents to teach their children the dangers of walking near roadways, to help reduce those risks.

The Clarksville bus accident attorneys at Matt Hardin Law know that a greater emphasis on safety can help reduce the chances of serious accidents, but it can’t always prevent them. That’s why we’re here for anyone whose loved one was hurt in a school zone or school bus accident.

You shouldn’t have to pay for medical bills and other accident-related expenses out of pocket for something that wasn’t your fault. Get in touch with us today—we’re ready to put our experience to work for your family.