Kids crossing streets, drivers near schools should be aware

Kids crossing streets near school should be aware. (NTV News)

With school back in session, parents can be nervous about kids crossing streets.

There are flashing yellow lights in front of public schools that caution drivers to slow down.

The speed limit is 20 mph in many school zones, but some schools like West Lawn Elementary School in Grand Island, it is 15 mph.

Parents need to know these vehicles don't need to stop until they come to crosswalks with signs.

Drivers are not necessarily aware that they should be stopping for kids unless there is a clear stop sign.

"If it's a marked crosswalk, the pedestrian has the right of way. If they are walking where there is no crosswalk, the vehicles have the right of way and the pedestrians have to yield to the vehicles in the street." said Grand Island Police Sergeant Kevin Sheeks.

State law says every pedestrian who crosses a roadway at any point in an unmarked crosswalk shall yield the right of way to all vehicles on the road.

Sheeks said educating kids is also key.

"Always watch for traffic, assume the car is not going to stop," Sheeks said.

But this is a reminder for drivers too, especially near schools.

"There's going to be kids on the sidewalk, on roads, basically everywhere. Drivers have to be that much more aware of their surroundings," Sheeks said.

With distracted driving, it can be hard to be aware.

"The problem is that people get on their cellphones and they don't pay attention," said Crossing Guard for West Lawn Elementary School Diana O'Neill.

According to the Nebraska Department of Transportation, there were 400 collisions involving pedestrians in the state last year. 157 crashes occurred from cellphone distractions.

Sheeks said accidents with pedestrians can be avoided if both drivers and pedestrians are aware.

"Put the phone down, pay attention to what's on the street. The phone call, the text message, it can wait until you get to your destination," Sheeks said.

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