Residents encouraged to remember traffic laws in school zones

A West Ranch High School student crosses in front of traffic heading to the High School and Rancho Pico Junior High School on Valencia Blvd. on the first day of school in Stevenson Ranch on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012. Dan Watson/The Signal

Both the city of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station are working together to enforce speed limits and encourage drivers to slow down during the start of school.

A 2016 study from the California Office of Traffic Safety found that more than 54 percent of Californians said they had been hit or nearly hit by a driver who was talking or texting on a cellphone.

The use of cellphones while driving, however, is just one of the many traffic laws and regulations drivers—parents and teens—break when traveling to and from school.

“The traffic laws are one thing.  Patience is another huge one,” said Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Traffic Sgt. Scott Shoemaker.  “The parents have to have patience and slow down a little bit.”

Here is a look at some of the most commonly broken traffic laws around and in school zones.


In August, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station said it was putting an emphasis on proactive enforcement by increasing the number of motorcycle deputies in the area.

“Every time you get behind the wheel of your car you are making a choice to drive safely or not,” Capt. Robert Lewis said in a statement. “It is your choice to speed, your choice to text, your choice to not focus on who could be crossing the street in front of you… We ask you to make the safe choice.”

Both California law and the city of Santa Clarita’s municipal code state that vehicles may not drive above 25 miles per hour when approaching or passing a school building or within “School Zone” signs during school hours.

Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station do monitor speed in school zones.

“I just came from James Foster [Elementary] and I wrote four speeding tickets,” Shoemaker told The Signal Thursday.  “That [speeding] is the bigger one because that’s potentially the most dangerous.”


California law states that vehicles cannot double park, park in cross walks, park in a bus zone or park in front of a public driveway.

“We get a lot of illegal parking, blocking people’s driveways, parking in red zones,” Shoemaker said.  “One, it’s illegal.  And they need to have a little common courtesy with their neighbors and school neighbors.”

There are also certain restrictions for parking next to curbs based on their painted colors.

For example, vehicles cannot stop, stand or park in a red zone, but they can stop for the loading or unloading or passengers for 3 minutes in a yellow zone.

In white zones vehicles can also stop for the loading or unloading of passengers and in green zones passenger vehicles can park for 3 minutes and commercial vehicles can park for 20 minutes, according to local public ordinance.

In addition, drivers cannot stop or leave their vehicle within 15 feet of fire hydrant unless it is attended by a licensed driver who can immediately move the vehicle in case of necessity.


Drivers must also be aware of pedestrians and give them the right-of-way within any marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

However, both drivers and pedestrians should exercise care and caution when they are crossing the street or near a curb.

“Near schools, kids are in and out of traffic and in the crosswalks and parents have to be cognizant of that,” Shoemaker said.

Pedestrians are also prohibited from jaywalking, or crossing to roadway at points not protected by crosswalks or crossing guards.

But in locations where crossing guards are present, drivers must yield to their directions.

“The crossing guards, when they’re in proper uniforms, have rights to direct traffic,” Shoemaker said.  “People can be cited for not obeying those crossing guards.  Everyone needs to remember that they’re there to get kids safely to and from schools.”

General Safety

When school buses make a stop and display flashing red lights and a stop sign arm, drivers are required to stop and not pass the bus until its warning signs stop.  This regulation, however, does not apply to divided highways or multi-lane highways with two or more lanes of travel in each direction.

Students under 18 years old who ride bikes, non-motorized scooters, skateboard or in-line or roller skates to school must remember to wear a properly fattened and fastened helmet at all times.

Children and adults must also wear seatbelts at all times when they are in vehicles.  A 2012 study from the California Click it or Ticket campaign found that seatbelts saved an estimated 12,174 people from dying.

Last but certainly not least, residents should not drive distracted or text while they are driving in school zones and out of school zones.

With the passage of Assembly Bill 1785, drivers are no longer allowed to hold or handle telephone or wireless communication devices.  Drivers may only perform the motion of a single swipe or tap while a device is mounted in a vehicle.

“If you need to make a call or send a text, wait until you stop in a safe place,” Shoemaker said in a statement.  “Turn off all notifications on your phone when you get in the car, so that you are not tempted to check a text message, or someone’s Facebook status.”


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