School is officially back in session here in Tennessee, meaning motorists must reacquaint themselves with the sights of crossing guards and yellow buses, and remember to exercise the necessary caution while navigating school zones as children will almost certainly be present.
In fact, any failure to exercise caution could be met with significant consequences from both a legal and monetary perspective. That's because troopers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be out in full force during the course of the 2014-2015 school year, cracking down on distracted drivers, drivers who speed in school zones, and drivers who neglect to stop for buses loading or unloading kids.
Under state law, the fine for exceeding the 15 mile-per-hour speed limit in a school zone is up to $500, while the fine for passing a stopped school bus loading/unloading kids is a minimum of $250 and a maximum of $1,000.
"Everyone shares a responsibility to make sure pedestrians and bicyclists are safe," said Colonel Tracy Trott. "We are urging all motorists to drive cautiously, limit your cell phone use in school zones and do not pass other vehicles in school zones or at crosswalks."
While some may question the THP's resolve in enforcing these traffic laws for the entire year, consider that state troopers issued 6,924 school zone citations -- including 839 speeding tickets -- during the 2013-2014 school year. This was over 1,900 more citations than were issued during the entire 2012-2013 school year.
From a public safety standpoint, these efforts by the THP appear to be working, as the number of car accidents taking place in school zones between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. have fallen by six percent since 2011.
It is worth noting, however, that the number of bus accidents during these two timeframes jumped by 6.9 percent since 2011. This figure coupled with estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showing that up to 600,000 kids here in Tennessee ride school buses suggests that motorists should perhaps become accustomed to the sight of troopers.
Consider speaking with a dedicated legal professional to learn about your options for pursuing justice if you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car crash or bus accident.
Source: Tennessee Highway Patrol Newsroom & Media Center, "Tennessee Highway Patrol encourages back to school safety," Aug. 6, 2014