Back-to-School Traffic Reminders: Bus Stops, Crosswalks, Speed Limits & Driving Laws
Back-to-school means sales, it means football and pep rallies, and it also means traffic patterns change and a rush hour at both 3pm when school gets out and 5pm when work does.
In the morning, family routines change and there is a convergence of work and school traffic.
If you are traveling, there are things that you should refresh your memory on, tips for being safe around back to school.
Pennsylvania Speed limits as posted are 35 mph in urban districts, 25 mph in residential areas, and 65 or 70 on freeways, which would include the turnpike and other limited access highways.
Otherwise it is posted 40 to 55 mph on whatever road you are traveling on and yes, it is illegal to go over the posted speed limit in Pennsylvania. So you can stop doing the math on adding 5 to 7 mph over the speed limit, it’s all illegal after the first mph over the limit.
School Zones specifically require motorists to slow down to 15 mph.
We’re all pedestrians. Some more than others, but we’ve all walked along the streets to get where we are going.
Keeping ourselves and those around us safe requires vigilance on behalf of drivers and pedestrians. Crossing at crosswalks and looking for pedestrians at crosswalks is a good start.
Be aware of the time of day. Rush hour during the morning when school is in session can lead to more pedestrians and often more younger pedestrians. In the afternoon, schools often get out around 3pm, so be at heightened awareness then, too.
School Buses and Stops:
According to the NHTSA, the school bus is “one of the safest vehicles on the road” with barely 1% of all traffic fatalities involving school transportation vehicles. However, children are more at risk when approaching or leaving a school bus than at any other time during their commute to school.
It is illegal to pass a school bus with its stop-arm extended and lights flashing. This has become such a priority for the NHTSA that commercials have been regularly playing on television and streaming services to reiterate this fact.
If you are commuting to work through a residential neighborhood, know that the NHTSA suggests that all children be at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus arrives, which means you should be on the lookout for children during the school year even if there is no bus around.
Parents, remind your children to never walk behind the bus and always cross at least ten feet “five giant steps” in front of the bus.
A 1997 survey on speeding and other unsafe driving behaviors found that “Passing a stopped school bus was considered to be more dangerous than any other unsafe driving behavior, more dangerous even than racing another driver, driving through a stop sign or red light, crossing railroad tracks with red lights blinking, passing in a no-passing zone, and speeding.”
Other Pennsylvania laws to be reminded of…
Rat Running is illegal; an example being the cutting through a corner gas station to avoid a stop light or sign.
Prohibiting use of Hearing Impairment Devices. Pennsylvania law prohibits the use of headphones and other devices that prevent them from hearing other vehicles around them like emergency response vehicles. However, the law does allow for a single bluetooth headset in one ear or, a single earbud as the case may be.
Heads Up, Phones Down is not just for drivers, but for pedestrians as well. While vehicles need to pay attention, so too do pedestrians.
Back-to-school means a lot of things to a lot of different people. Kids are often divided as to whether they want to go back to school in the fall, parents are often universally happy about it and commuters in general are aware that morning commute times increase as the big yellow buses do their daily migrations.
The one thing we can all agree on is back to school safety is a priority we should all share.