Shar Tipton, a crossing guard for Horace Mann Elementary students, saw one driver traveling more than 40 mph in a posted school speed zone on Highland Street Wednesday, so she was glad to see an extra police presence for the first day of school.
On the first day of classes, Shawnee Police Chief Russell Frantz had 13 officers patrolling school zones.
One of them — Cpl. Darrell Williams — wrote 18 tickets for drivers speeding in school zones, Frantz said, adding police also made one arrest from a stop in a school zone.
Frantz said there were numerous speeding violations in school zones, but many of them were by the Shawnee Early Childhood Center on Airport Drive, where most of Williams’ tickets were written.
“We take the safety of kids seriously,” Frantz said, adding the first day of school is always a concern.
In addition to drivers not slowing down in posted school zones, one driver who shouldn’t have been behind the wheel also went to jail after he was stopped in a school zone.
Frantz said he made that arrest after discovering a driver with a suspended driver license.
While all of the first day’s speeding statistics aren’t yet compiled, Frantz said, there were some issues in school zones, so police will be carefully watching school zones today and in the future in efforts to keep students safe.
Tipton said the Draper and Highland crosswalk is quite busy and hectic. Wednesday, she said she noticed many drivers speeding through the school zone, so the extra police presence made her feel safer as she worked to get the students safely to school and home through her crosswalk.
“Safety is my main concern,” she said.
Tipton wants drivers to extend courtesy to all children as if they were their own.
“Remember, it may not be your child, but it is somebody else’s — you wouldn’t want them hurt or injured,” Tipton said, urging drivers to watch their speeds in school zones and to be cautious, especially in crosswalk areas.
Susan Field, the principal at Horace Mann, said it’s hectic with traffic and other issues around schools, but she reminds drivers that many students also walk or ride bicycles to school.
And while the crossing guard helps ensure students safely cross Highland Street, there are many areas and in neighborhoods where drivers could encounter students.
“Our children are very precious —we don’t want anything to happen to our children or grandchildren,” she said, encouraging drivers to remain alert and slow down.
Page 2 of 2 - Ann Worden, principal at Shawnee Early Childhood Center for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, said she asked for traffic assistance Wednesday for student safety. She said they anticipated a lot of traffic as parents — and buses — get used to the drop-off and pick-up routines of a new school year. In addition, it’s all about student safety.
“We take it very seriously,” she said.
While Shawnee had its first day Wednesday, Tecumseh students have already returned to class.
Tecumseh Assistant Police Chief J.R. Kidney said drivers there appear to be watching the school zones, but he reiterates to all drivers, “to be safe and watch for the kids.”
Shawnee Police Sgt. Dan Shumaker, who said the speed limit in most Oklahoma school zones is 25 mph or less, reminds drivers it also is unlawful to drive around a stopped bus.
Speeding in school zones can net drivers hundreds of dollars in citations, while failure to stop for a school bus can result in drivers losing their driver license altogether.
As the new school years gets under way, Shumaker offers the following tips for drivers:
• Always be alert, cautious and patient around children, crosswalks, bus stops, schools, school buses and school parking lots.
• When approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and its stop arms extended, motorists traveling in both directions are required to STOP in nearly every instance.
• Obey all traffic laws and speed limits, paying extra attention to the lower speed limits in school zones.
• Do not pass other vehicles in school zones or at crosswalks.
• Do not change lanes or make U-turns in school zones.
• Watch for and obey signals from school crossing guards.
• Do not text or use a cell phone while driving.
• Only drive or park in authorized areas to drop off or pick up children at school.