empty cell
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) arrows logo
Knowledge bar

2009 Edition Chapter 7A. General

Section 7A.01 Need for Standards

01 Regardless of the school location, the best way to achieve effective traffic control is through the uniform application of realistic policies, practices, and standards developed through engineering judgment or studies.

02 Pedestrian safety depends upon public understanding of accepted methods for efficient traffic control. This principle is especially important in the control of pedestrians, bicycles, and other vehicles in the vicinity of schools. Neither pedestrians on their way to or from school nor other road users can be expected to move safely in school areas unless they understand both the need for traffic controls and how these controls function for their benefit.

03 Procedures and devices that are not uniform might cause confusion among pedestrians and other road users, prompt wrong decisions, and contribute to crashes. To achieve uniformity of traffic control in school areas, comparable traffic situations need to be treated in a consistent manner. Each traffic control device and control method described in Part 7 fulfills a specific function related to specific traffic conditions.

04 A uniform approach to school area traffic controls assures the use of similar controls for similar situations, which promotes appropriate and uniform behavior on the part of motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

05 A school traffic control plan permits the orderly review of school area traffic control needs, and the coordination of school/pedestrian safety education and engineering measures. Engineering measures alone do not always result in the intended change in student and road user behavior.

06 A school route plan for each school serving elementary to high school students should be prepared in order to develop uniformity in the use of school area traffic controls and to serve as the basis for a school traffic control plan for each school.

07 The school route plan, developed in a systematic manner by the school, law enforcement, and traffic officials responsible for school pedestrian safety, should consist of a map (see Figure 7A-1) showing streets, the school, existing traffic controls, established school walk routes, and established school crossings.

Figure 7A-1 Example of School Route Plan Map

Thumbnail image of Figure 7A-1

08 The type(s) of school area traffic control devices used, either warning or regulatory, should be related to the volume and speed of vehicular traffic, street width, and the number and age of the students using the crossing.

09 School area traffic control devices should be included in a school traffic control plan.

10 Reduced speed limit signs for school areas and crossings are included in this Manual solely for the purpose of standardizing signing for these zones and not as an endorsement of mandatory reduced speed zones.

11 "School" and "school zone" are defined in Section 1A.13.

Section 7A.02 School Routes and Established School Crossings

01 To establish a safer route to and from school for schoolchildren, the application of planning criterion for school walk routes might make it necessary for children to walk an indirect route to an established school crossing located where there is existing traffic control and to avoid the use of a direct crossing where there is no existing traffic control.

02 School walk routes should be planned to take advantage of existing traffic controls.

03 The following factors should be considered when determining the feasibility of requiring children to walk a longer distance to a crossing with existing traffic control:

  1. The availability of adequate sidewalks or other pedestrian walkways to and from the location with existing control,
  2. The number of students using the crossing,
  3. The age levels of the students using the crossing, and
  4. The total extra walking distance.

Section 7A.03 School Crossing Control Criteria

01 The frequency of gaps in the traffic stream that are sufficient for student crossing is different at each crossing location. When the delay between the occurrences of adequate gaps becomes excessive, students might become impatient and endanger themselves by attempting to cross the street during an inadequate gap. In these instances, the creation of sufficient gaps needs to be considered to accommodate the crossing demand.

02 A recommended method for determining the frequency and adequacy of gaps in the traffic stream is given in the "Traffic Control Devices Handbook" (see Section 1A.11).

Section 7A.04 Scope

01 Part 7 sets forth basic principles and prescribes standards that shall be followed in the design, application, installation, and maintenance of all traffic control devices (including signs, signals, and markings) and other controls (including adult crossing guards) required for the special pedestrian conditions in school areas.

02 Sections 1A.01 and 1A.08 contain information regarding unauthorized devices and messages. Sections 1A.02 and 1A.07 contain information regarding the application of standards. Section 1A.05 contains information regarding the maintenance of traffic control devices. Section 1A.08 contains information regarding placement authority for traffic control devices. Section 1A.09 contains information regarding engineering studies and the assistance that is available to jurisdictions that do not have engineers on their staffs who are trained and/or experienced in traffic control devices.

03 Provisions contained in Chapter 2A and Section 2B.06 are applicable in school areas.

04 Part 3 contains provisions regarding pavement markings that are applicable in school areas.

05 Part 4 contains provisions regarding highway traffic signals that are applicable in school areas. The School Crossing signal warrant is described in Section 4C.06.

Back to Top