RE: School is in, pay extra attention to school zones
The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office wishes to remind everyone that most area schools are back in session, which means motorists need to pay extra attention to school zones and bus stops. Over the summer break and during construction, drivers may notice areas around schools that have been reconfigured or signage has been changed from what they were used to before the summer. Some areas may also see new road signs and times when school zones are active with reduced speed limits or altered traffic control. Construction areas may also cause motorists to alter their typical route to work which may be through a school zone or area they are less familiar with. Because of this, Deputies urge drivers to plan ahead, not get in a hurry, obey all traffic laws, and take extra notice of the school zones and traffic signage.
Reduced speed limits for school zones are typically found in areas with heavier pickup and drop-off vehicle traffic, crosswalks, bus stops, and increased pedestrian activity. Most school zones throughout Bonneville County have warning lights indicating reduced speeds when activated, however, drivers should pay close attention to signs that may not have a warning light and only indicate particular times of the day when the lower speed limit applies. Many areas are also equipped with pedestrian-activated blinking crosswalk signs and/or a crossing guard wearing reflective clothing and carrying a portable stop sign. Drivers are required to stop for these signals whenever pedestrians occupy the crosswalk and can only proceed when the crosswalk is completely clear.
School buses are another aspect of our daily travel that should cause motorists to take extra care. As area bus drivers make frequent stops in neighborhoods and roadways, motorists should pay closer attention and always watch for kids waiting to be picked up or just getting off of a bus. When a school bus stops to pick up or drop students off, yellow and red flashing lights are activated, and a stop sign is extended on the left side of the bus. On roadways with two and three lanes, even if there is a center turn lane, motorists in both directions are required to stop until the lights go off and the stop sign is no longer displayed. On roadways with four or more lanes, motorists going the same direction as the bus are required to stop behind the bus, and motorists traveling in the opposite direction should slow and proceed with caution. Failing to stop for a school bus is a misdemeanor with fines starting at $200 for a first offense. Keep in mind that most school buses are equipped with camera systems to aid in investigating these types of violations.
Deputies also remind parents to talk to their kids about safety when they travel to and from school, whether they walk, bike or drive. Too often our Deputies seek kids of all ages darting across roadways from areas difficult to see without even checking for traffic. Walking students should always utilize sidewalks whenever available and appropriately cross at crosswalks or intersections after checking for traffic. Crosswalks equipped with pedestrian-activated warning lights are there for safety and shouldn’t be bypassed when all it takes is a moment to push the button. Students to ride a bicycle should be aware of the rules of the road and wear a helmet. For teenage drivers, Deputies can’t stress enough the importance of not getting in a hurry, paying complete attention to their driving, and always wearing their seatbelt.
Always plan ahead and anticipate the added vehicle and foot traffic during the school year. Whenever you are traveling near a school area or see a school bus, always remember you could be in a school zone with reduced speed and there is a higher risk of kids on foot or bicycles nearby that could surprise you. If there is a school bus in your path, be prepared to stop and assume kids may be nearby. Also, this is the time of year when the sun is shining bright during the morning commute, and it may be difficult to notice school zone signs, the extra stop-and-go traffic, bicycles, and pedestrians.