As the summer draws to a close and kids across the country prepare to go back to school, more eyes and ears are on the safety zones surrounding the schools than ever. Obviously, it’s critical that we ensure children are safe as they travel to and from these facilities. Regulations are in place to guide us as we create these zones.
How much flexibility is there, though? Is there space for innovation in such a high-stakes environment? We’re here to answer those questions and more today. You may have already guessed it, but there definitely is room for change and improvement when it comes to school zone safety systems, signs, and features.
Solar power has been sweeping the nation (and the world) for decades. At last, we’ve started to utilize these technologies in the public sectors – including school buildings. If you’d like to learn about how that’s possible and the ways that we can stick to regulations while implementing solar energy, keep reading!
What are School Zones?
Depending on where you live, the specific zoning around a school may look different. Generally speaking, they are a few blocks around the actual building and/or playground. There should be signs that denote the fact that there may be young pedestrians, along with other markers on the road, depending on the district.
Speed limits are lower in these spots, and in many parts of the world, anyone caught speeding in these areas will be fined more than the usual ticket for going above the speed limit. Typically speaking, there are lower limits during the school year than in the off-season. The primary purpose is to keep students safe during their commute.
For anyone who wasn’t aware, the Department of Transportation here in the United States has a program known as “Safe Routes to School” or SRTS for short. This is where we can find the specifications for signage and general safety, though https://www.solarlightingitl.com/solar-school-zone-and-flasher-systems/ also has some details if you would like to check it out.
Some of the obvious bits include having sidewalks and crosswalks, but that isn’t our main focus today. Rather, we’re looking at how we can use signs and traffic lights to add to the overall safety of our school zones.
Speed limit signs are critical above all the rest of them, so if you are only able to choose one safety feature to implement, that’s what we would recommend. The ones that flash are preferable, simply because they draw more attention from drivers in the area. Lights that are blinding aren’t what we’re talking about here, either – just some gentle flashing.
Beacons, traffic lights, and lamps on the sidewalks are also some potentials to keep in mind. If you aren’t certain where to start with a project like this, that’s okay. Implementing an SRTS program isn’t always easy, and it requires pooling together a lot of time, energy, and helping hands.
SRTS, Organization, and Solar Power
School safety programs definitely require a lot of brain power to put together. Here’s the thing – often, they aren’t handled by the district alone. In fact, local communities are often the ones who initiate the process and handle things like fund-raising and actually picking the fixtures that should be installed.
Wondering where we’re going with this? Well, since we as a community tend to be in charge of raising the funds to buy any new signs or light features, it also means that we get to choose which ones to get. Why would we want to go with solar powered options, though?
Think of it this way: the sun isn’t dying any time soon. It is always there, and even at night or on cloudy days, our solar-powered electronics are soaking up that energy. This means that they’ll work reliably any day of the year, even if other power sources go out.
When it comes to keeping kids safe year-round, that sounds pretty appealing, right? Further details can be seen on this page. Many solar powered fixtures also have inbuilt LED lights and have reflective surfaces, meaning that they’ll shine out like a beacon for any drivers to easily spot and adjust their speed.
There are even ones that are designed to only start flashing when a vehicle approaches, or that can be programmed to flash during school hours or bussing/walking periods as opposed to constantly. Power gets saved that way, too, which is a double bonus in that sense. We can consider it the icing on the cake.
Now, for anyone worried about cost, that’s understandable. The nice thing is that these solar options aren’t much more expensive than traditional signs, and they save the district cash in the long-term because the sun isn’t exactly something that we need to pay for. Typically, the Department of Transportation recommends adding the less expensive fixtures first in projects like this, so this may be something you want to prioritize.
Are Signs Effective, though?
A worry that a lot of us share when it comes to school zones is this: are they actually effective at keeping our children safe? Studies have been done on the topic all over the world, and across the board, the answer does seem to be a resounding “yes.” Even more minor signs that have speed limits or simply the words “school zone” tend to encourage safer driving.
Although it’s not as simple as waving a magic wand and protecting all kids from reckless drivers, making sure that everyone on the road is aware that they’re headed through a school zone does have an impact. It can be life saving for the students heading in and out of their schools in the mornings and afternoons.
If your community doesn’t have a program like this yet, it may be worthwhile to try to start one. For the existing ones, consider making the switch to solar power. These signs last much longer, draw more attention consistently, and utilize a “green” energy source that helps our planet to boot!