Purpose of School Signs
The main objective of installing school related signage is to ensure the safety of the children arriving to and departing from school. Traffic control devices, such as signs and signals, can assist in meeting that objective.
A school advance sign, a reduced speed zone sign and a school crosswalk sign typically indicate designated school crosswalk locations. Reduced speed limit school zones play a significant role in enhancing the traffic safety of students. They serve to communicate to approaching drivers of the need to reduce their speed and to remain alert throughout the length of the school zone. The existing reduce speed limit school signs which define the reduced speed limit zone are passive in nature. However, it is desirable to supplement these passive devices with flashing beacons to optimize their effectiveness.
Locations eligible for flashing beacon installation include all designated school crosswalk locations and all arterial and collector streets adjacent to schools.
Reduced Speed School Zones
The City believes there is a strong relationship between the length of a reduced speed zone for schools and driver compliance with the posted reduced speed limit. While other factors, such as the presence of school children, have a degree of influence on the behavior of the driver, experience has shown that the longer the reduced speed zone, the less likely drivers are to comply with the reduced speed limit. Data collected on driver speeds at various points in long reduced speed school zones have shown drivers to be compliant at the beginning of the zone with speeds gradually increasing until reaching the crosswalk where the speeds once again drop to the reduced speed limit. Past the crossing location, speeds again climb to the regular, non-reduced speed limit before the driver reaches the end of the reduced speed zone.
It is the goal of the City to establish reduced speed school zones to provide a safer crossing area for children going to and from school while also meeting driver expectation. By establishing zones for pedestrian crossing-related activity that limit the length to one which drivers can recognize and respect, the City believes it will result in greater compliance by the motoring public.
Purpose of Flashing Beacons
A School Zone Flashing Beacon (sometimes called flashers or flashing lights) is a pair of yellow lights that is typically installed with a reduced speed limit school zone sign. The purpose of the flashing beacons is to draw motorists’ attention to the reduced speed limit school zone sign. In the mid-1990’s, the City of San Antonio began installing school crossing flashing beacons on the approaches to some school zones. The City is continuing to increase the number of school zones that are equipped with flashing beacons.
Priority for Installation
Crosswalks located at stop signs and traffic signals are preferred locations for students to cross the road as vehicles are required to stop. Crosswalks at traffic signals are equipped with pedestrian indications that tell the pedestrian when it is safe to cross. Under this condition children should be educated and directed to cross when the pedestrian signal displays the WALK symbol. Under these conditions, the cars that would be crossing the pedestrian’s path are stopped at the red light.
Purpose of Fluorescent Yellow-Green Signage
Fluorescent yellow-green school signs can also be effective tools for improving driver awareness of school zones. The purpose of the fluorescent yellow-green signage is to draw attention to pedestrian activity related to the school in areas where sign clutter is a problem.
Fluorescent Yellow-Green Facts
Yellow-green signs increase driver awareness by distances up to 40 percent further than standard yellow colors during daytime, and under nighttime conditions, the new signs can be detected at distances up to 50 percent greater than conventional signs. Tests revealed that in areas where yellow-green signs replaced the standard yellow signs, the number of drivers slowing down increased by 50 to 100 percent.
Use of Fluorescent Yellow-Green Signs
The City’s policy for installing or replacing fluorescent yellow-green school zone signs:
- Fluorescent yellow-green signs are utilized with all new flashing school zone installations. As indicated in the City of San Antonio School Flashing Zone Standard Details, all school zone warning signs are to be manufactured utilizing fluorescent yellow-green material.
- Fluorescent yellow-green signs are installed at existing school zones when funding is available.
- According to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), "…when the fluorescent yellow green background is used, a systematic approach featuring one background color within a zone or area should be used. The mixing of standard yellow and fluorescent yellow green backgrounds within a zone or area should be avoided." As a result, when any school signs within the zone are converted to fluorescent yellow-green, all associated warning signs within the zone must also be changed.
The school zone flashing beacons and fluorescent yellow-green signs are helpful in lowering the typical vehicular speed in school zones during the times when most children are arriving or departing from school. However, these and other traffic control devices are only as effective as the drivers’ willingness to cooperate. Consequently, we urge motorists to comply with the speed limits within school zones.