Pedestrian safety largely depends on motorists’ understanding and acceptance of traffic control measures, such as crosswalks, school zones, signals and the like.
All of these control measures are most effective if applied in a uniform and appropriate manner. That is why Public Works strictly follows federal regulations as mandated by the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Following established best practices is never more important than in the vicinity of schools. Neither school children nor motorists can be expected to move safely in school zones unless they understand both the need for traffic controls and the ways in which these controls function for their benefit.
The lack of uniformity in the methods for traffic control within a community and from one community to another is considered one of the greatest obstacles to the development of successful school crossing safety programs. It is for this reason that the Springfield School Crossing Protection Committee has developed a manual (PDF) that provides policies and practices proven effective in the solution of community school pedestrian problems. The safety of school children should be the ultimate goal of everyone involved in the establishment and maintenance of school crossings.
School Crossing Protection Committee
The Committee on School Crossing Protection consists of:
- Director of School Public Safety for the Springfield Public Schools
- District Traffic Engineer of the Missouri Highway and Transportation Department
- Greene County Highway Department
- Greene County Sherriff's Department
- Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Representatives
- Springfield City Traffic Engineer
- Springfield Police Department
This committee is responsible for reviewing school crossing protection requests, recommending action to address school traffic safety problems, establishing priorities on projects, and developing policies and procedures to insure a uniform school crossing protection program throughout the entire city.
The City of Springfield and R-12 schools provide crossing guard assistance to certain elementary school crossings, based upon the number of students crossing at that location. Street crossings directly adjacent to schools are often manned by the school's staff while crossings further away are staffed by contracted crossing guards. Typically, guards are provided where more than 15 elementary students cross on a regular basis and/or at intersections with more than two traffic lanes in a single direction. The crossing guard's student counts are reviewed on a regular basis by our staff and the School Crossing Protection Committee. If student counts of one school location are consistently low, the guard may be moved to another area that has a higher need, or an additional guard maybe added if warranted and approved by both R-12 and the City.
School Speed Zones can only be established within 200 feet of an elementary school property if along a walking route and there is a greater than normal potential conflict between vehicles and students. Special circumstances, such as the absence of sidewalks or other special conditions at busy streets may warrant a school zone. Beacons will flash when the 20 mile per hour speed zone is in effect, about 50 minutes before school start and about 30 minutes after school dismissal. You can read more on this topic in the Manual for School Crossing Protection.
School congestion is a common concern for drivers and parents of walking children alike. While new school construction is required to keep their drop-off and pick-up circulation within their property, older neighborhood schools tend to require queueing on the street. This often leads to congestion which can be irritating to neighbors and through traffic, but moreover, it can potentially be dangerous for walking children.
The Traffic Operations office regularly works with schools to help minimize the 15-45 minute congestion in the morning and afternoon. Sometimes relief can be found by altering the dismissal procedure in different ways, but sometimes the best available solution is for through-traffic to avoid the area during that time of day. We ask that parents are courteous and do not block driveways and follow the school circulation pattern. All drivers should make a point to drive slowly and alert when children could be around.