It’s unfortunate that children are vulnerable to dying in motor vehicle accidents in Florida and across the country, according to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Every year in the state, more children than in the previous year fall victim to these accidents.
This is why designated school zones across the state require cars to drive at reduced speeds. The state has increasingly targeted violators of these school zone laws, issuing fines for drivers who speed or commit other violations.
Here’s what you need to know about school zone laws in Florida so that you know what is expected of you when traveling in a school zone and what the consequences are should you violate the law.
School Zones: What Are They?
Under Florida state law, school zones have been created as areas or crosswalks near schools. You will see additional signs in these areas that indicate that it’s a school zone, urging you to slow down when children are present. Often, these signs have attention-grabbing features – such as flashing lights that let you know, without a doubt, you are entering a school zone and should keep on the lookout for children.
The reduced speed limits found in school zones are in effect when children are present. Logically, this is the time when they are most at risk of being involved in an accident with a vehicle.
In most places, these speed limits can be expected to be enforced 30 minutes before and after school. However, those hours can be even earlier for schools with preschool breakfast programs, so be aware when driving.
Using Phones in School Zones
Speeding is not the only thing that is limited in school zones. You also can be subject to tickets if you are caught using your smartphone while driving in a school zone. As with other Florida laws, if you use your phone, it must be hands-free when you are behind the wheel of a car. Having your phone in your hand when driving in a school zone is enough to get you pulled over by police and fined. This can also add points to your driving record.
School zones are meant to keep the community’s most precious resource, children, safe. The National Safety Council reports that many children killed in incidents related to buses at school aren’t even on a bus – they were walking to or from the bus when struck by another motor vehicle.
The sidewalks and streets surrounding a school are busy places both before and after school. There’s congestion from buses, people, and other vehicles that can create dangerous situations. That’s why it’s a good idea to use extra caution when traveling in a school zone.
These tips can help keep everyone safe:
- Never attempt to pass a vehicle that is stopped
- Watch the crossing guard or police directing traffic – and obey their commands
- Be alert when driving near a school, keeping an eye out for kids who may walk into the path of a vehicle
- Make sure to obey the posted speed limit
- Yield to pedestrians
- Never block a crosswalk because it may force children and other pedestrians to walk into the path of other vehicles
- Never pass a stopped school bus for any reason
If you or someone you love is injured in a school zone, speak with an attorney immediately.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all personal injury cases, focusing on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in representing injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, and has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2022– an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2022, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019-2022.