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Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 10:05am
El Paso (KDBC) — Schools are back in session which means those school zones are congested in the mornings and in the afternoons.
Which is why the El Paso Police Department says if you're planning on passing through a school zone on your way to work or school, it's important to give yourself enough time.
"You will never forgive yourself if you run over a first grader on his first day of school," said Mike Baranyay, spokesperson for EPPD.
Schools districts, including Ysleta ISD said personnel and some help from lights, help to ensure the safety of their children.
"We also have a very strong parent volunteer programs at all of our schools. Principals typically ask additional parents to assume some of the responsibilities. We have crossing guards at all of our schools. We also work very closely with the City of El Paso to provide the lights. The blinking lights which i think are probably the most preventative way of doing it," said Xavier De La Torre, superintendent of YISD.
Despite precautions, however, the responsibility also falls on the driver.
A study by Safe Kids Worldwide found most drivers slow down in school zones, but 1 in 6 are distracted.
The most common distraction is the use of a cell phone or other electronic device, followed by eating or drinking.
EEPD will have officers out near school zones to keep and eye out for the safety of the students and staff, but Baranyay said obeying traffic laws in a school zone is about more than just a citation and a fine.
"When we look at consequences, we automatically assume those are in the form of criminal punishments, like citations and fines and such. But I think one of the largest consequences you can come across is actually striking a child or striking a crossing guard or what have you because that is a consequence you're never going to outlive" Baranyay said.
Anytime there are blinking lights in a school zone, drivers need to stop to let pedestrians cross. This applies to cars in both directions.
There is no passing in school zones, something officers say is often not followed.
"Often times, you'll have like a two lane road way, meaning two lanes going in a single direction and you'll see one lane that is backed up and you'll see another lane where people are just rolling past those other vehicles. That's technically passing, and you can be stopped and cited for that violation."
Passing in a school zone can result in a fine of about $200.