As kids return to school drivers need to be extra careful

As kids return to school drivers need to be extra careful

As summer comes to a close, teachers and children prepare to return to school. Their return to school means more morning and afternoon traffic, pedestrians, school speed zones, and school buses. So with these returning challenges to our daily commutes, what are our responsibilities as motorists?


An important thing to remember about Oregon law is that every intersection contains a pedestrian crosswalk, whether or not it is so marked, and whether or not there is a traffic control device.

ORS 811.028 requires a driver to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian crossing the roadway in a marked or an unmarked crosswalk when the pedestrian is located in the driver’s lane or the lane adjacent to the driver’s lane. The requirement for motorists to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk is not affected if the pedestrian is crossing unlawfully or against a do not walk signal.

It is also unlawful for a driver to pass a vehicle that is stopped to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway at a marked or unmarked crosswalk.


Pay attention to school zones during your commute. When school zones are active, the speed limit is 20 miles per hour and fines for violating the speed may be double the normal fines. Fines for speeding tickets in school zones can go as high as $875.

There are reasons why the school zone speeds are so low. First, the stopping distance of most cars at 20 MPH is about 19 feet. At 35 MPH, stopping distance is about 58 feet. Another reason is the survivability of pedestrians in a crash. Studies have shown that about 95% of pedestrians struck by cars at 20 MPH survive. At 30 MPH, only about 60% survive and at 40 MPH, only about 20% survive. At 50 MPH or greater, it is extremely rare for a pedestrian to survive being struck by a vehicle.


ORS 811.155 requires drivers to stop for school buses. If a school bus is stopped on the same road as you in either direction or in any lane, and the bus is displaying red flashing lights, you must stop and remain stopped until the bus driver turns off the bus safety lights. The only exception to this is if the bus is stopped on the other side of a divided highway, or a road that has a physical barrier between opposing lanes. A ticket for failing to stop for school bus safety lights carries a $440 fine.

The motor vehicle laws listed here are not all-inclusive, but they are some of the major violations police are watching for to help protect our most vulnerable road users. In summation: Slow down in school zones, stop for pedestrians, and stop for school buses. Give yourself extra time in the morning for your commute. And most importantly, drive safely.

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