NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Highway Patrol is gearing up for the school year with a heightened enforcement campaign to keep children safe in and around school zones. Cracking down on motorists who disregard laws designed to protect children and monitoring school zones and bus stops are just a few components of the enforcement effort.
“As thousands of students return to the classroom on foot or in school buses, we want to remind everyone to be extra cautious around school zones,” said Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell. “The goal of the Tennessee Highway Patrol is to help local law enforcement and schools protect children from drivers who may be distracted, impatient or careless.”
State Troopers are urging motorists to be alert, slow down and be careful in school zones, while also encouraging caregivers to educate children on safety measures when walking, biking or riding the bus to school. Motorists should be aware that the speed limit is 15 mph in school zones and the fine for speeding in a school zone is up to $500 dollars. It is also against the law to pass a school bus when it is stopped and loading or unloading passengers. The driver can be fined no less than $250 and up to $1,000.
“Motorists can expect stiff penalties for driving unsafely in school zones and for placing our children at risk while doing so,” said THP Colonel Mike Walker. “But there is no punishment more severe than the lifelong guilt and remorse for hitting or killing a child. We are asking everyone to do their part to help a Tennessee child make it to school and home safely.”
In 2009, State Troopers issued 5,445 citations in school zones. Of those citations, 973 were speeding violations, while one citation was handed out for passing a stopped school bus. Since 2006, there has been a 15.9 percent decrease in the number of crashes occurring in school zones between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and the hours of 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. There was also a 13.5 percent decline in the number of school bus-related crashes between those same hours.
Each day, 25 million children in the United States ride school buses, including 600,000 in Tennessee, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The National Safety Council (NSC) reports approximately 26 students were killed while they were entering or exiting a bus in the U.S. last year. Close to 800 children are killed annually and many more injured going to and from school in a vehicle other than a school bus, according to the NSC.
For more facts, figures & safety tips, please see the attached Safety Tips and visit our Web site: www.TN.Gov/Safety .