SANTA FE – With some private schools providing in-person learning at reduced capacity, the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) wants to remind drivers to watch for children in and around school zones.

Unlike public schools which under Public Education Department guidance are operating under remote-learning protocols to protect against the spread of COVID-19, private schools may operate at 25 percent occupancy with certain essential safety precautions in place per the state’s emergency public health order. This means some students may be walking or biking to school again.

“It has been a while since drivers have had to slow down in school zones, stop for school buses or wait for children and parents to clear crosswalks,” said Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval. “We don’t want anyone getting hurt. Be extra vigilant and keep an eye out for kids, especially around school zones.”

Driver Safety Reminders:

  • Slow down! Speed limits in school zones tend to be 5-10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.
  • Respect the crossing guard.  Always stop for crossing guards holding a stop sign.
  • Use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians, no matter who has the right of way.
  • Be aware children can be unpredictable. Watch for children darting out from between parked cars.
  • Yield to pedestrians walking on a crosswalk.
  • Do NOT stop on a marked crosswalk or impede a pedestrian’s pathway at a marked intersection.
  • Drivers must stop behind a school bus with flashing lights. Never pass a stopped school bus.  The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children entering or exiting the bus.

Pedestrian Safety Reminders:

  • Look both ways before crossing.
  • Do not expect a driver to yield to you if you are crossing on an unmarked pathway.
  • Wear bright colored or reflective clothing if walking at night.
  • Only walk on designated sidewalks or pathways.
  • Never jump into traffic or attempt to walk on the road.
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