Back-to-school safety urged; speeders targeted

Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm

School zoneTennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott is reminding motorists to exercise an abundance of caution in neighborhoods and around school zones during the upcoming 2013-2014 school year.

State Troopers will target speeders, distracted drivers and those who disregard stopped school buses that are loading and unloading children.

State Troopers issued 5,247 citations in school zones during the 2012-2013 school year. That’s up from 3,856 citations issued in 2011-12. Last year’s citations included 759 speeding violations and two citations for passing a stopped school bus.

“Our priority is to educate motorists on the importance of safe driving practices around school zones and buses and in high pedestrian traffic areas,” Colonel Trott said.

“We are also urging motorists who are transporting children to and from school to ensure they are safely restrained in seat belts, booster seats and child restraint devices. This effort stretches far beyond school zones,” he added.

Between 2008 and 2012, there has been a 7.0 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 73.5 percent decline in the total number of school bus-related crashes between those same hours.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted that 123 school-age pedestrians (younger than 19) have been killed in school-transportation-related crashes since 2001. Over two-thirds (69%) were struck by school buses and 26 percent by other vehicles involved in the crashes. There were 49 (40 %) school age pedestrians killed in school transportation-related crashes between the ages of five and seven, according to NHTSA.

“We have seen a 31.4 percent increase in the number of overall pedestrian fatalities across the state, compared to this same time period in 2012,” Trott said. “It’s imperative for drivers to share the road with pedestrians and bicyclists, and to comply with pedestrian yield laws. We all have a responsibility to make sure pedestrians are safe.” 

In Tennessee, there have been 46 pedestrians killed on state roadways in 2013. That’s 11 more than at this time in 2012. Nationwide, there were a total of 4,432 pedestrian fatalities in 2011 (the latest figure available), the 14-and-younger age group accounted for 230 (5%) of those fatalities.

The Pupil Transportation section of the Tennessee Highway Patrol 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. During fiscal year 2012-13, 11,401 school buses were inspected with 1,367 being placed out of service.

Each day, 26 million children in the United States ride school buses, including 600,000 in Tennessee, according to NHTSA.

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.

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