A school crossing sign is a traffic control device used to warn drivers about intersections used by school children. It is a combination of two signs — a pentagon school area sign and a downward pointing diagonal arrow plaque — that constitute a school crossing sign assembly.
School crossing signs are warning signs that warn drivers about crossings where school children cross the roadway. These are crucial as school children tend to be somewhat careless on roads and the signs enable drivers to remain alert and drive carefully in such areas. Upon encountering a school crossing sign, a driver should keep an eye out for children, reduce the vehicle's speed, and follow any instructions/signals from a crossing guard.
As required by MUTCD section 7B.08, school crossing signs are pentagon-shaped and consist of an upward-pointing pentagon with a horizontal rectangular plaque. These can either be fluorescent yellow-green or yellow and black.
The MUTCD prohibits the use of portable/part-time stop signs as these can create confusion among drivers about when the stop regulations apply and when they don’t. This way, such temporary controls can prove counterproductive and increase the chances of a crash.
The placement of school crossing signs depends on several factors such as traffic volume, usual vehicular speed, number of school children crossing the road, roadway geometry, and so on. Additionally, where intersections/crossings are already controlled by a stop sign or a pedestrian crossing sign, school crossing signs are not required.
School crossing signs are one of the ways to manage school crossings. Pavement and crosswalk markings are also used to control school area traffic and may supplement the signs or be used alone to communicate guidelines and warnings.
Additionally, school crossings are often supervised by individuals who could be guards, law enforcement officers, or a student/parent, depending on the crossing type. The MUTCD provides detailed guidelines about adult crossing control, the qualifications and uniform of guards, and the operating procedures.