Stay Alert at School Zones and School Bus Stops
The Clark County School District is the fifth largest school district in the United States and as another school year is upon us, more people will be on the streets in the Las Vegas valley. There are more than 300,000 school children attending the Clark County School District’s 356 schools and about 35,000 school employees and so when school is open, there are inevitably more people out on our streets, most of whom are school children, walking, running, riding bikes, jumping on and off school buses, and crossing streets. Drivers should expect to see more people using crosswalks and should take extra care when driving through school zones as the majority of the pedestrians in crosswalks will be children. “A lot of times what we hear is the pedestrian light was not flashing, so thought I had the right to go. No. You have to make sure you are paying attention, especially when you see a crosswalk,” warns Trooper Loy Hixson with Nevada Highway Patrol.
Nevada School Zone vs. School Crossing Zone
When approaching a school zone or school crossing zone, the speed limit signs are visible and posted well in advance, before the designated area. “State Law establishes School Zones at 15 miles per hour and School Crossing Zones at 25 miles per hour.” Therefore, upon seeing the speed limit sign, prepare to slow down to the required speed and stay alert to children walking or running and possibly darting out into the street in their haste to get to the school. In addition, be aware of the school buses dropping students off and the parents who may drive their children to school. Remember courtesy is contagious, so please be courteous and allow buses and parents into the line of traffic.
Per Nevada State Law, school zones and school crossing zones are in effect from 30 minutes prior to the start of the education day until 30 minutes after the school day ends. The Clark County School District (CCSD) has instituted a safety campaign for pedestrians including the many children pedestrians who walk to school, with posters at local bus stops. Also, CCSD along with Clark County officials and other local jurisdictions began a community-wide Safe Routes to School Program, a national program implementing the “5 E’s” – Evaluation, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Engineering to promote a safer environment for school commutes.
School Bus Safety
Besides school zones and pedestrian safety, it is also important to understand school bus safety rules for those children taking the school bus, walking around or near one as well and what to do as a driver approaching a stopped or stopping school bus.
The space all around the school bus is called the “Danger Zone,” and it extends out 10 feet (10 giant steps) in all directions and the school bus driver cannot see you in this zone, nor can the bus driver see around the wheels. It is very dangerous to be standing or walking within this the Danger Zone. The safety rules state if you cross the road you should make eye contact with the bus driver and wait for him/her to signal it is safe to cross. Then when safe, still look left and right again and never cross behind the bus!
As for drivers approaching a school bus from in front or behind, if the red lights flashing lights are on and the stop sign is out on the bus you MUST stop. You also must stop if you are on a multiple lane roadway and you are traveling in the same direction, behind the bus. For more information and to see diagrams of the safety rules visit CCSD’s bus safety website. For more on school zone rules and for other rules of the road in Nevada visit the state legislature’s Rules of the Road.
Student Safety Tips
The primary objective for the parents with school children is to get their children to and from school safely and on time. The Clark County School District provides basic safety tips for all students and it is a good resource for parents with school-aged children to review with them.
As for the adult motor vehicle driver, it is your responsibility to yield to all pedestrians, school children or adults in the crosswalks and near school bus stops. We all share the roads, so during these back to school times when school is open and kids are flooding the streets, please have extra patience in the school zones or school crossing zones. Take a deep breath and wait or proceed slowly and undistracted as it only takes a few minutes to get through these areas.