As children prepare to begin another school year, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission reminds all drivers to “get back into school zone mode” watch out for students.
That means slowing down in school zones and stopping for school buses that are picking up and dropping off children. The school zone speed limit is 20 miles per hour.
“It’s time for drivers to get back into that 20-mile-per-hour school zone mode in the mornings and afternoons,” Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Lisa Freeman said.
While there is no uniform start date for Louisiana schools, most elementary, middle, and high schools begin classes begin soon. School zone times are posted at school zones. They vary throughout the state but are generally in effect from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and, again, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Additionally, Louisiana law prohibits drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving through an active school zone. A first-time violation can cost a driver up to $500.00, and subsequent violations are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.00 and a 60-day driver’s license suspension. If a driver is involved in a collision while using a cell phone in an active school zone, the fine is doubled.
Back-to-school driver safety doesn’t begin or end in school zones, Freeman pointed out. Drivers should watch for school buses that are making multiple stops along neighborhood streets and major arterial routes early in the morning and late into the afternoon.
“All school buses are equipped with flashing lights and attached stop signs,” Freeman said. “Motor vehicle drivers in all directions must come to a complete stop until those stop signs are fully retracted and the bus begins moving.”
Even after the bus has started moving again, drivers should be on the lookout for children, who usually are not looking for cars and may suddenly dart into the street.
“Children’s minds are not on their own safety,” Freeman said. “They’re thinking about their friends, or their teachers, or their classes. It’s up to us to be vigilant drivers in areas where children are present.”
For more information, please visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-bus-safety. En Español: https://www.nhtsa.gov/es/seguridad-vial/seguridad-del-autobus-escolar.