As students return to school, the Champaign Police Department reminds motorists and pedestrians of safe transportation practices and to observe applicable laws near school zones.
According to National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data, there were 264 school-age children (18 and younger) killed in school transportation-related crashes between 2008 to 2017. To help ensure that kids arrive to and from school safely it is essential that motorists and pedestrians alike adhere to rules of the road.
Reminders to Drivers:
When approaching a marked school zone between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., unless otherwise noted, on days when school is in operation and when children are present, a driver must:
-Yield to any children or adults crossing in the crosswalk area and obey the commands of a marked official.
-Stop and wait for a stopped school bus that is loading and unloading.
-Reduce vehicle speed to 20 mph. Speeding in a school zone could result in a $150 fine for the first violation and a minimum $300 fine for second or subsequent violations. If a motorist causes great bodily injury to a child or a crossing guard in a school zone, they could go to jail and be fined up to $25,000.
-When transporting children, they should always ride in the back seat. Children in the front seat are 40 percent more likely to be injured in crashes.
-When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking of getting there safely.
Pedestrians and Bus Riders:
-Pedestrians 10 years old and younger should be accompanied by an adult or young adult on their way to and from school.
-When crossing the street, look left-right-left for cars. Do not cross if a car is coming.
-Pedestrians should access the roadway at designated intersections and crosswalks. Leave the curb or place of safety only when you have the right of way.
-Walk on the sidewalk and if there is none, walk facing traffic.
-When waiting on the school bus, wait 5 giant steps from the road. When the school bus arrives, wait until the driver says to board.
-When exiting the bus, look out for cars. When off of the bus, take 5 giant steps away from the bus. Look left-right-left to make sure no cars are coming and wait for the driver to signal it’s safe to cross.
New for the upcoming school year, Champaign Unit 4 School District has assumed responsibility from the Champaign Police Department for the School Crossing Guard Program. The transition is expected to result in more efficient and effective service to the students and families served by the school district. Champaign Police will continue to monitor vehicle traffic near school zones and assist Unit 4 as needed. For more back-to-school safety tips and to reinforce pedestrian, bicycle, school bus and/or public transportation safety habits, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at www.nhtsa.gov.