Making sure that drivers see, acknowledge, and obey school zone signs is vital to protecting young people making their way to and from school, no matter which mode of transportation they are using.
According to a Seattle Department of Transportation (DOT) report, a pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling at 40 mph only has a 10% chance of surviving, while a pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph has a 90% chance of surviving—a good reason for school zones to have 20 mph limits, especially considering that those ages 5 to 14 have the highest pedestrian crash rate of any 10-year age group.
Improving safety for pedestrians starts with improving vehicle driver compliance: educating drivers in this way can help parents feel more confident about allowing their children to walk to school, and we know that walking builds good habits, improves health and wellness, and reduces congestion in school zones, among many other benefits. Happier, healthier people can mean cost savings, better livability, and improved economics for your municipality.
The videos below explore several solutions to help vehicle drivers reduce speed, pay attention to signs, and become more compliant in school zones.
NOTE: Please keep in mind this is a general guideline only based on the FHWA’s MUTCD: your state and/or local jurisdiction may have different school zone design and sign placement standards to meet their unique safety concerns.
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Coming soon: Download our complete school zone guide
Help drivers identify school zones in the community
School zone signs alone may not be enough to improve driver compliance when school zone speed limits are in effect. Adding flashing school zone beacons or enhancing signs with flashing LEDs can help draw attention to signs and encourage drivers to slow down. These beacons can be programmed to flash only when the school zone speed limit is in effect, removing the guesswork for drivers unfamiliar or unaware of the local requirements.
Municipalities across North America have selected flashing beacons for improved school zone speed compliance:
- In Marion County, Indianapolis, Indiana, schools provided overwhelmingly positive feedback to their new school zone flashing beacons, which quickly began to cause a change in driver behavior.
- Rapid City, South Dakota, ran trials on two school zone beacons, which were so reliable and easy to program that the city ordered 48 more units.
- Candiac, Quebec, was a growing town with the big-city troubles of neighboring Montreal, so it chose to add LED flashing school zone beacons to enhance its commitment to pedestrian safety.
In this video, we’ll cover what school zone signs and beacons are required, where to place them, and how they can help change driver behavior.
Help drivers notice and stop at school zone crosswalks
Signs and road markings legally mark a crosswalk, but that might not be enough to get drivers to yield to pedestrians, especially on busy roads. Circular crosswalk beacons are one treatment, but rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) offer driver yield rates between about 82 and 93% compliance. Their highly effective irregular flash pattern helps command driver attention in a variety of circumstances.
For example, RRFBs have helped municipalities across North America mark their crosswalks in school zones, at roundabouts, and at other mid-block locations:
- SCHOOL ZONES: In St. Albert, Alberta, the Safe Journeys to School program helped retrofit existing school zone crosswalks with RRFBs for better driver compliance.
- ROUNDABOUTS: The Five Corners Roundabout in Edmonds, Washington, is an award-winning project that turned a congested five-way intersection into an efficient roundabout complete with RRFBs at every entry point.
- MID-BLOCK: Woonsocket, Rhode Island, used a 90-day trial to test out RRFBs in two mid-block locations. After seeing the effectiveness and the ease of installation, they purchased more RRFBs for two more locations.
In this video, we’ll cover RRFB effectiveness, how the technology works to improve driver awareness, and how it can fit into a school zone safety plan.
To learn more about crosswalk treatments, download our RRFB applications guide.
Help drivers slow down to the school zone speed limit
Video coming soon!