Increasing Student Visibility in School Zones

By Mike Spack, PE, PTOE

Trees, shrubs, fences, buses, and parked vehicles should be limited in crossing areas so kids can be seen by vehicles in time for the vehicles to stop for them.  This is typically at least 30 feet from the intersection per the image.

Obstructions should be removed within the school grounds and along the school routes to school. This is most important at elementary schools because the children are smaller. A three foot high shrub would be a problem at an elementary school where it wouldn’t be a problem at a high school. 

When possible, students should cross traffic in groups so they will be more visible. If there are concentrations of students who walk or bicycle along the same route, a “walking school bus” or “bicycle train” system can be developed. The students go to their corner at a certain time and get “picked-up” by the group in the same fashion a school bus operates. These work best if an adult volunteer goes with the group, starting at the first “stop.” 

If adult crossing guards or student patrols are used, they should have whistles to catch the attention of motorists and/or students. They are also required to wear high visibility apparel (per the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices). This apparel (safety vests) should comply with ANSI 107-1999. AAA is a great resource for developing your school patrol procedures. 

Here are Links to Each of the 7 Components of an Effective School Safety Plan

  1. Documenting Existing Transportation Systems at Schools 
  2. Minimizing Vehicle and Student Interaction – A Look at Loading Zones
  3. Minimizing the Impacts of School Traffic
  4. Increasing Student Visibility in School Zones
  5. Slowing Down Traffic in School Zones
  6. Controlling Arrivals and Departures at Schools
  7. Traffic Safety Education for Students

Mike Spack

  • The school I volunteer with provides good student visibility for the drivers as there aren’t obstacles that may prevent a car from seeing the children. There is also a crossing guard and stop light to guide the students across the street.

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