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Drivers should be patient when school resumes

School is back in Clark County, which means school zones and throngs of children returning to class across the Valley.

Motorists shouldn’t groan that their morning commute will again be affected by reduced-speed zones and general traffic around schools. They should plan ahead and be patient, according to Michael Naft, Clark County Commissioner and traffic safety advocate.

“We cannot take the return of school and its impact on our road networks for granted,” he said. “Give a little extra time knowing that there are people going to schools they may never have been to before. There are children on the streets and their bikes who may not be as experienced as we navigate the road network.

Naft will distribute helmets to pupils and focus on road safety between 8:15 and 8:45 a.m. Monday at Jydstrup Primary School.

Child safety should be a priority for everyone, even those without children. So the next time you’re in a school zone and you’re in a rush, ask yourself if those extra few seconds you gain for speeding are worth the risk of hurting a child.

“Just be very patient and diligent in looking for the little ones that might be the most vulnerable,” Naft said.

Here are the laws all motorists must follow when crossing a school zone, according to the Clark County School District Police:

Don’t speed up. Drivers should always obey the posted speed limit in an active school zone. These are usually 15 mph or 25 mph.

No passing. Motorists are not permitted to pass stopped or slower moving vehicles in an active school zone. There have been fatal accidents in the Las Vegas Valley because of this problem. Don’t be the next to cause such a tragedy.

No U-turn. U-turns are not permitted in an active school zone. Motorists must drive through the entire school zone and turn around at a legal location.

Yield to a stopped bus. Drivers are required to stop for school buses when students board or depart while the bus’s flashing red lights are active. If you are traveling on a divided road with a raised median, traffic on the opposite side of the street does not need to stop. But even then, be careful and watch out for children.

Parents dropping off their children at school should remember the following:

Do not stop in a traffic lane. It is illegal to stop your vehicle in a traffic lane to let your children out. All schools have designated drop off points. Use them or pull to the side of the road where it’s safe to let your child out.

No-parking areas. Motorists are not permitted to park within 30 feet of a traffic light, 20 feet of a crosswalk, 15 feet of a fire hydrant, or 5 feet of a public driveway or private. As always, parking in a lane reserved for firefighters is not permitted.

Do not block a sidewalk. Motorists cannot block a sidewalk or crosswalk. Use your best judgment in traffic jams around schools to make sure you don’t block either one.

Naft said it’s a good idea for all motorists to review the laws before a new school year to make sure they’re up to date on the latest regulations.

“Be aware that the rules are not the same in school zones,” he said. “School zones are more than flashing lights and crosswalks. These are designated areas where we want to provide as much safety as possible for our vulnerable students.

In addition to being dangerous, if you break traffic laws in a school zone, the fine associated with this violation is doubled. So do what the school police suggest: follow the rules and avoid a citation.

“Advice is free, quotes are not,” they wrote in a Facebook post.

Contact Mick Akers at [email protected] or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Send your questions and comments to [email protected].