Motorists get schooled on rules of the road
Not all of the teaching will be directed at students in the classroom when local schools open next week. Local law enforcement will be closely monitoring the use of a new pedestrian signal by both pedestrians and motorists to educate the community about the proper use of the signal, explained Park City School District (PCSD) board member Michael Boyle. The new stop light was installed on Kearns Boulevard across from the Park City High School (PCHS) to provide a safe route for students crossing from the Prospector neighborhood to the three district schools located on the other side.
Brent Chaston, the Park City School District’s (PCSD) transportation director urges motorists to slow down and keep their eyes peeled for students in the mornings, and again in the afternoons, when the roadways will be flooded with students walking to school or waiting for buses.
Chaston explains that, when school buses turn on their blinking amber lights, "Motorists often speed up to try and beat the school bus." This puts students at risk because, he says that students are commonly dart across the street at the last minute to catch the bus. Instead, Chaston said that he would like to see drivers slow down, because it’s only a few seconds out of their day to keep their commute safe and uneventful. Also, when a school bus turns its flashing lights on, it becomes a school zone, which means 20 mph speed zone and increased traffic fines apply.
According to the United States Uniform Vehicle Code, the drivers of motor vehicles must stop when meeting or approaching a school bus that has pulled over with flashing amber lights. A driver may proceed after either the school bus resumes motion, the bus driver signals for the other drivers to proceed, or the school bus turns off its flashing lights. The law applies to vehicles traveling in both directions on all non-divided roads and highways with four lanes or less. Chaston explained that on roads such as Bonanza Drive vehicles traveling in both directions must stop when a school bus turns on its lights. On divided highways such as S.R. 224, only vehicles traveling in the same direction as the school bus are required to stop. Violators will be subject to a class C misdemeanor fine which carries a minimum fine of $100 for a first offense.
Drivers also need to be aware of established school zones. In 1992, the Utah legislature established the School Safety Zone Act reducing speed limits in front of most schools. Beware, these 20 mph safety zones stretch from the first school zone sign with flashing lights to an end school zone sign. Between these signs the speed limit is 20 mph when the amber lights are flashing. Speeding through a school zone could cost drivers as much as $275 for the first offense.
Brent Chaston, Park City School District (PCSD) transportation director shares a few safety tips with students:
Be at the bus stop, waiting in line five minutes before the bus arrives.
Wear light colored or reflective so that you are more visible to motorists.
Always walk facing traffic and as far away from cars as possible, using sidewalks or walkways where available.
Look left-right-left before crossing the street.
J-walking is dangerous and should be avoided.
The district will be celebrating national school bus safety week Oct. 19 through 25.
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