Signs you will see in a school zone and why they are important
26th Feb 2020
Throughout the day, school zones experience large volumes of both pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Whether it's parents picking up or dropping off their children, or students walking home from school these areas need to be carefully regulated to ensure everyone's safety. While there are often traffic guards to help guide the flow of pedestrians crossing, many school zones also have regulatory signs in place for drivers. These areas will also often have specialized signs to help keep traffic moving efficiently and safely. But what are these school signs? Here is a comprehensive list of the regulatory signs that you will see in a school zone and what they mean.
School Speed Limit Signs
One of the most common traffic signs in a school zone is the reduced speed limit sign. The reason for this is because many younger children are often walking in this area. Furthermore, students are not as aware of oncoming traffic and so it is the responsibility of the driver to take precautions in this area. When passing through, speed limits can be regulated as low as 5 or 10 miles per hour. These signs can also have a flashing LED component and while often "while flashing" meaning the speed is only enforced when the lights are flashing.
Handheld Stop Sign/Stop Paddle
Similar to a traditional stop sign, these school zone signs are compact, portable, and easily rearranged. Different traffic patterns at a school are enforced and change whether it is the beginning of the day, lunch, or the end of the school day. Crossing guards often use these to help children across roads that typically do not have crosswalks or in high traffic areas to ensure the children's safety.
State/Local Law Stop for Pedestrians Sign
Many schools will have a series of crosswalks that are not regulated by a traditional stop sign. Instead, drivers must stop for pedestrians any time they wish to use the crosswalk. These signs are usually neon green so that drivers can read them. Every area has different traffic laws so whether it is required by state or local law will depend on where the school is located.
Slow Down Watch for Children
Though there is usually a carefully organized traffic system for the beginning and end of the school day, children can be present in a school zone at any time throughout the day. Maybe they are coming to school late or leaving because they are sick. Or maybe there is an afterschool program at their local school. These yellow signs alert drivers to the presence of children and ask for them to alter their driving speed and to be alert while passing through this particular area.
Slow Children Playing
These yellow signs are similar to the slow down watch for children signs and the goal is to make sure that drivers are actively aware of other people inside of this zone. Often times, children are not watching for traffic while they are outside playing and having fun. Being aware that there are children at play gives the driver the information that they should be utilizing all of their mirrors to be aware of what is happening in the area.
School Bus Stop Ahead Sign
These signs are a warning to drivers that there is an upcoming school bus that may not be visible. Lack of visibility can occur for several reasons, including the shape of the road such as a curve or hill. When a school bus is not visible by a motorist for up to 500 feet this sign should be installed. The background of these signs is fluorescent yellow-green and either say School Bus Stop Ahead, or have a pictogram featuring both a school bus, a red stop sign, and pedestrians crossing in the image.
School Advance Warning Sign
These signs are used in advance of the first crosswalk sign. The purpose of these is to warn traffic coming from all directions that they are approaching a school zone. All signs warning of a school zone feature a pictogram of people walking and are required to be fluorescent yellow-green.
Drug-Free Gun-Free School Zone
It is important to keep parents and children safe in school areas. These signs are used to make it clear that there is a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and guns in these areas. Most school zones have put this sign in effect ever since the Gun-Free School Zone Act was created in 1990. Drug-Free Gun-Free signs are usually made of reflective aluminum. They feature a picture of a gun and a drug needle inside of a red circle that has a line drawn through it. These signs have become available in Spanish as well to coincide with the rise of multilingual families in the United States.
On any given day there are parents, guest speakers, and visitors of all types in a school. To keep the school zone working effectively, and parking orderly some signs are implemented to direct drivers to their appropriate areas. Common signs are Reserved For Visitors, Visitor Parking, Pick Up And Drop-Off Only - No Parking, Staff Parking, Buses Only, and No Parking Bus Stop. These are not required, but help to keep parking in school zones organized and operating smoothly.
Bully Free Sign
Bullying has become an increasing issue at schools especially with the rise of social media. These signs empower students to stand up to bullying by bringing visibility to the problem. While these signs address the issue of bullying and help to protect the safety and health of personnel, they are not a substitute for enforcing consequences for people who violated the signage. Bully Free Zones are simple and usually feature the same image of people crossing the street against a bright yellow background. These signs also come in reflective white aluminum with a similar layout out to the Drug-Free Gun-Free School Zone signs.
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