The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) is urging motorists to utilize extra caution in school zones, around school buses and in neighborhoods during the 2014-15 school year.
State Troopers will work to raise school safety awareness, and target traffic violators, specifically those who speed in school zones, drive distracted and disregard stopped school buses that are loading and unloading children.
“There will be more young pedestrians on the roadways, specifically, in and around the schools, as the academic year begins,” Colonel Tracy Trott said. “State troopers and local law enforcement need everyone’s help in providing each child with safe passage to school and back home again. Please make safety a priority around school zones and buses in Tennessee.”
State Troopers issued 6,924 citations in school zones during the 2013-2014 school year. That’s an increase from the 4,993 citations issued in 2012-13. Last year’s citations included 839 speeding violations and one citation for passing a stopped school bus.
Since 2011, there has been a 6.0 percent decline 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. in Tennessee. There was also a 6.9 percent increase in the number of school bus-involved crashes between those same hours.
In Tennessee, there have been 54 pedestrians killed on state roadways in 2014. That’s six more than at this time in 2013.
“Everyone shares a responsibility to make sure pedestrians and bicyclists are safe,” Trott said. “We are urging all motorists to drive cautiously, limit your cell phone use in school zones and do not pass other vehicles in school zones or at crosswalks.”
The THP Pupil Transportation unit also oversees all school bus inspections in the state and determines whether public school bus systems are in compliance with the safety requirements by state law.
Each day, 26 million children in the United States ride school buses, including 600,000 in Tennessee, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The speed limit in school zones is 15 miles per hour and the fine for speeding in a school zone is up to $500. 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.