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August 16, 2023

Breaux Law Firm for Back-to-School Safety: What Parents Need to Know About School Zone Accidents in Louisiana

by Evan Breaux | Breaux Law Firm | 0 comments
Breaux Law Firm
for Back-to-School

In Louisiana, and New Orleans in particular, we have a lot of school zones, speed cameras, and faulty flashing lights meant to alert drivers of school zones. These safety precautions may feel burdensome if you are in a hurry, but they’re meant to protect young students who walk to school, ride the school bus, or bike. Here’s what parents and drivers need to know.

Facts About School Zones in New Orleans and Louisiana

  • School zone hours are from 7:00 – 9:00 a.m. and 2:45 – 4:45 p.m on weekdays when school is in session.
  • Louisiana’s school zone speed limits are twenty miles per hour in all school zones, with the exception of university campuses.
  • In May of 2023, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell expanded school zone eligibility to include high schools. This means the areas around all New Orleans schools, with students ranging from kindergarten through grade 12, will be equipped with signage, crosswalks, road paint, and other traffic control devices like speed cameras or mobile traffic units. An additional 41 schools will now be designated as school zones.
  • An ordinance passed in March 2023 by the New Orleans City Council states that in order for camera tickets to be issued, flashing yellow school zone lights must be working. However, not all of the new school zones will be equipped with flashing lights. Drivers must always observe signage, and can be ticketed by a police officer for going over the school zone speed limit.
  • According to New Orleans’ Department of Public Works, there were 6,532 car accidents near schools in New Orleans between 2017 and 2021. Of these incidents, 206 involved students ages 18 or younger, and more than half of those with severe injuries happened near high schools. Five out of six fatal crashes during the 5-year period happened near high schools.
  • The 41 new school zones are meant to protect children and teenagers who are entering or exiting schools from drivers who are speeding, failing to pay attention, or engaging in other dangerous, life-threatening activities.

What to do in a school zone? In a school zone, you are legally required to drive at or below the speed limit, to yield to pedestrians, and to observe the instruction of traffic guards. You must also pay particular attention to school bus safety.

School Bus Safety Facts 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, buses are a very safe mode of transportation in the U.S. Less than 1% of all traffic fatalities involve children on school transportation vehicles.

However, children are more at risk when boarding or exiting a school bus, due to the dangerous, neglectful actions of adult drivers. For this reason, children should always cross the street in front of the bus, never behind.

Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. You should slow down and prepare to stop your vehicle.

Red flashing lights and extended stop-arms indicate that children are entering or exiting the bus. You must stop your car and wait. You can only begin driving again after the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving.

It is illegal to pass a school bus while the stop-arm is extended and the red lights are flashing.

If you find yourself stuck behind a slow-moving or stopped vehicle, or a stopped bus, while in a school zone, avoid escalating into road rage.

In a school zone, experiencing road rage could have catastrophic consequences. Instead, be patient and know that the car you’re stuck behind may be stopped to allow a child to cross the street, or may be following crossing guard instructions.

With cars, buses, bicycles, and commuters sharing the road, school zones can be hectic during drop-off and pick-up. Children might not pay attention to crosswalks or other pedestrian laws. So it’s our job as adults to drive with an abundance of caution and care for these young people.

Finding yourself repeatedly frustrated by school zones, where you have to slow down to avoid a speed camera ticket, share the road with kids on bikes, stop at a crosswalk, slow down or stop for for yellow or red flashing bus lights, or wait for kids who are walking to school?

You should probably look for a different route altogether, or plan to leave ten minutes earlier during the morning or afternoon. Your sense of feeling inconvenienced is not more important than ensuring the safety of our schoolchildren, young people, and teachers.

Tips for Parents of Minors

If you’re a parent of a child or teenager, teach them to practice extreme caution on the streets around their school, when boarding a bus, and when exiting a bus. They should know that drivers are often distracted by their cell phones, the radio, or other passengers, and may not have their eyes on the road ahead of them. 

If you have a young driver in your household, be sure to stress the importance of school zone safety. Not only does this mean slowing down to observe speed limits and avoid a ticket, but keeping their eyes on the road, alert for wayward children or cars that suddenly realize they are in a school zone.

Talk to your young drivers about the dangers of texting while driving—especially in a school zone!

Everyone’s behavior in a school zone can be a little erratic and unpredictable. The best thing to do as a driver is practice defensive driving: “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” It is our responsibility as citizens to keep schoolchildren, pedestrian, bicyclists, and other drivers safe. When driving through a school zone, each child’s safety is in your hands.

When To Call a Personal Injury Lawyer

While we certainly hope this does not happen to you or your family, if you or your loved one was injured in a school zone, your next step should be to reach out to Breaux Law Firm right away. As a family-owned and -operated business, we will care for you and fight for you as if you are one of our own family members.

Our experienced attorneys will make sure you’re fairly compensated for your medical bills, property damage, and emotional damages that resulted from your collision with a negligent, dangerous driver who failed to follow the law in a school zone.

At Breaux Law Firm, we provide personalized attention and care to each of our clients. Contact the personal injury team at Breaux Law Firm for a free consultation today.