Safe Schools: slowing down on the streets can make kids safer on the sidewalks

Posted at 6:00 AM, Sep 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-20 07:00:00-04

Students walking to and from school are at risk every day, even if they stick to the sidewalks. Walking near moving cars through pickup areas and along streets can prove dangerous, especially when the students are distracted.

A Safe Kids Worldwide study found there are five teen pedestrian deaths every week in the United States. And while many school zones are clearly marked on the roadways, not everyone pays special attention when they're active.

In September, Tulsa Police's Riverside and Gilcrease divisions are cracking down on traffic violations in school zones, most of which will be for speeding. Officer Brian Paul of the Gilcrease division says police won't be handing out warnings for speeding in school zones, instead you will immediately get a ticket, which starts at $50 more than a regular speeding ticket.

"We got these little kids running around, who don't always know or think to look across the road," Officer Paul said. "So we're looking out for their safety."

When the yellow flashing lights are on, signaling an active school zone, Tulsa Police won't tolerate breaking any traffic laws. Officer Paul says this is the same in Tulsa and districts across Green Country throughout the year, however police want to set a proper tone for the school year ahead during September - the worst month for school zone traffic violations.

"Most of them tell you they didn't see the school zone, or they didn't know school was in session. All kinds of excuses," Officer Paul said. "The yellow lights are on - school is in session. We are going to stop you."

A study done by Safe Kids Worldwide of more than 18,000 middle and high school teens found nearly one in five middle schoolers were looking down at their phones while walking near moving vehicles. That number rose to one in four when it came to high schoolers. The study found distracted students only added to the hazard in school zones, which can also include distracted drivers.

Officer Paul says it's even more important to keep your eyes on the road in school zones, especially when students are present. So if you're not attentive to the yellow lights, especially in September, you could see the red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror.