School Zone Warning Signs – Are Some Better Than Others?

Because many states choose to at least partially disregard national guidelines* designed to encourage the uniform use of traffic signs throughout the USA, different standards in some areas can increase or decrease safety. Perhaps the most concerning of these variations is found in signs which warn drivers that they are entering a school zone.

School-zone warning sign for 'school days', with flashing lights.

Clearly, signs that are very conspicuous are preferable for such a crucial situation, and in this context, those with flashing lights undeniably have an advantage.

The actual message, however, varies from place to place.

Some — the best — state that lower speed limits apply (and therefore that caution is most needed) whenever the lights are flashing.

Some, like the one shown in the adjacent photograph, state that the requirement applies only on schooldays. That’s great unless any of the drivers in the area are from other states or even other countries and are unaware of what are and are not school days, especially in respect of things like summer schools.

The worst signs say only “when children are present,” but that is meaningless if the only children in the area are hidden from view by, say, parked cars or bushes.

There can be little doubt or argument that school-zone road signs throughout the USA should be standardized on lower speed limits and extreme caution being necessary whenever compulsory warning lights are flashing, whatever the hour or the day (so that evening, weekend or recess events may also be catered for). And all school zones should routinely be subjected to rigorous speed and distracted driving enforcement.

Anything less permits unnecessary risk to children’s lives.


*The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices [MUTCD]


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So-called Safe Driving Experts Post Dangerous Advice about Child Safety in Cars

How can the American public be expected to know what’s safest for themselves and their children when supposedly trustworthy sources so often publish incorrect and unsafe “advice” about safe driving techniques, or — as in this case — post highly inappropriate photographs or illustrations showing dangerous scenarios as though they are correct and acceptable?

California DMV

The photograph below first came to our attention when it was posted — outrageously — by no less an organization than the California DMV, so our first questions to them are:  Who is responsible for this?  Do they know nothing about safe driving and child safety at all?

This photograph is meant to show good child safety for the three children in the back seat of this car but all three are wearing their seatbelts in a dangerous manner (see the text of the article)/
This photograph is meant to show good child safety for the three children in the back seat of this car but all three are wearing their seatbelts in a dangerous manner (see the text of the article) — We do not claim to have copyright permission to post this image but do claim the legal right to do so for discussion of an important aspect of public safety.

The dangers shown here are that (a) the girl in the center of the three unavoidably has her seatbelt to high and effectively across her neck.  In the event of a collision, this alone could kill her.  The girl on the left also has her belt too high but not as badly as the first one.  (b) The girl on the right has her belt across her upper arm, below the shoulder (see the Irish Examiner article, linked below, for a better view of this) and there is no way this would restrain her correctly in a collision where, at the very least it might be expected to cause serious arm or shoulder injuries.

The photograph is, however, at least two years old.  We now know that a version of it was published by the Irish Examiner (newspaper) on July 04, 2015, in the ironically titled “How to keep kids well when travelling by car,”  which was about car sickness but was apparently oblivious to child seatbelt safety

Then, just three days afterwards, yet another version was published by the Gerber Life Insurance Agency, in “Activities to Keep Kids Happily Occupied  During Road Travel.”  Come on, Gerber.  Surely you have someone who should definitely have picked up on this?

The fact that these three sources all used different versions of one image might suggest that they originated from a picture library, in which case we would suggest that while such libraries are in business purely to sell images, they DO have a responsibility not to trade in misleadingly dangerous pictures!

Too Many Babies Die in the USA Because of Being Left in Hot Cars!

Far too many little children are forgotten or even deliberately left in cars in the USA in hot weather, and they quickly suffer and die from heatstroke.
Continue reading “Too Many Babies Die in the USA Because of Being Left in Hot Cars!”