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The Lessen Plan For School Zones

In many Indianapolis school districts, teachers and students are now back to school after a summer break. Drivers are cautioned to be on the alert for children walking to and from school and to observe the lessened speed limits in those areas. Nationwide statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reflect that, on average, 135 people are killed each year in school-transportation-related accidents, with 8 percent being school bus passengers and 21 percent pedestrians or bicyclists. About one-third of the accident victims are hit by passenger cars, trucks or motorcycles, not by school buses.

Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions regarding Indiana school zones.

Q. What is the legal speed limit in Indiana school zones?

A. That depends on the municipality. State law authorizes Indiana cities and towns to set their own school zone speed limits, which are typically 20-25 mph during school hours. They cannot be lower than 20 mph.

Q. What is the penalty for going over the speed limit in a school zone in Indiana?

A. Speeding in a school zone when children are present is considered a Class B infraction, punishable by ticketing and fines up to $1,000.

Q. How do I know if I’m in a school zone with a lowered speed limit?

A. Ind. Code § 9-21-5-6 requires that the speed zone be properly signed where the reduced speed zone begins (or as near as practical to that point) and that there be a sign located at the end of the reduced speed zone indicating either that the zone has ended or informing drivers of the new speed limit from that point on.

Q. Are school speed limits in force 24 hours a day?

A. The law allows special speed limits only “when children are present.”

Q. How will I know when children are present and I must slow down?

A. You would expect, of course, that pedestrians would be in the school’s immediate vicinity right before and right after classes. Most school-age pedestrian fatalities occur between 7 and 8 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. But school activities take place year-round and often after school. Things like after-care programs, marching band practice, football games, and other school events bring pedestrians into school zones. The safest practice, to prevent citations and to prevent injuries, is to always slow down in school zones.

Q. Can I disregard school zone speed limits during the summer, when kids are out of school?

A. No. If you’re one of those drivers who ignore lessened speed limits in school zones during the summer on the assumption that they don’t apply then, you’d better rethink your strategy. As the law says, the reduced speed limit applies “when children are present.” More and more, schools have been adopting “balanced” calendars (or year-round schedules) when classes are in session for some portion of every month. The following is a list of Indianapolis schools with such plans:

Brookview Elementary – 1550 N. Cumberland Rd.
Creston Intermediate Academy, Creston Middle School – 10925 E. Prospect St.
Damar Charter Academy – 6067 Decatur Blvd.
Daniel Webster School 46 – 1450 S. Reisner
Eagle Creek Elementary – 6905 W. 46th St.
Eastridge Elementary – 10930 E. 10th St.
Ernie Pyle School 90 – 3351 W. 18th St.
Fishback Creek Public Academy – 8301 W. 86th St.
Grassy Creek Elementary – 10330 E. Prospect
Hawthorne Elementary – 8301 Rawles Ave.
Imagine Indiana Life Science Academy-West – 4950 W. 34th St.
Imagine Indiana Life Science Academy-East – 4352 N. Mitthoeffer Rd.
Indianapolis Metropolitan High School – 1635 W. Michigan St.
Irvington Community Elementary – 6705 E. Julian Ave.
Irvington Community School Middle – 6040 E. Pleasant Run Pkwy.
Key Learning Community – 777 S. White River Pkwy. W. Dr.
Lakeside Elementary School – 9601 E. 21st St.
Liberty Park Elementary – 8425 E. Raymond
Lowell Elementary – 2150 Hunter Rd.
New Augusta Public Academy N – 6450 Rodebaugh Rd.
New Augusta Public Academy S – 6250 Rodebaugh Rd.
Pleasant Run Elementary – 1800 N. Franklin Rd.
Raymond Park Intermediate, Raymond Park Middle – 8875 E. Raymond St.
SENSE Charter School – 1601 S. Barth Ave.
Stonybrook Intermediate Academy, Stonybrook Middle – 1130 Stonybrook Dr.
Sunny Heights Elementary – 11149 Stonybrook Dr.
The Indianapolis Project School – 1145 E. 22nd St.
The Excel Center-Decatur – 5125 Decatur Blvd.
The Excel Center-Meadows – 3919 Meadows Drive
The Excel Center-Michigan St. – 1635 W. Michigan St.
Warren Central High School – 9500 E. 16th St.

Q. Is distracted driving a problem in school zones?

A. Yes, and it’s probably one reason people ignore posted speed limit signs in school zones. They’re too busy using a cellphone or grooming or talking to passengers to notice that they have entered a school zone. In a 2009 study published by Safe Kids USA, observers found that one in six drivers in school zones were distracted. For every 1,000 female drivers, 187 were distracted; for every 1,000 male drivers, 154 were distracted. Cell phone/electronics was the leading distracter.

Q. Is there anything I can do if I see someone driving carelessly or speeding in a school zone?

A. The Indiana State Police encourages anyone who observes a motorist disregarding school speed limits or school bus stop arms to get a license plate number and description of the vehicle and call the nearest ISP post or local police department.

Q. What should I do if my child was hit while walking to or from school?

A. Even though the at-fault driver may be criminally charged, that does not prevent your seeking compensation for medical expenses in a civil action. The Indianapolis school accident lawyers at McNeely Stephenson can help you obtain just compensation from a driver who ignored speed limit signs and hurt your child. Call Mike Stephenson at 1-855-206-2555 for a free consultation.