Juneau police: Beware the bus zone

Posted: Friday, September 03, 2010

Reading, writing, and arithmetic aren't the only things school kids need to be wary of. According to the Juneau Police Department, the morning and afternoon bus zones are being ignored by vehicles and the commuters' operating them and are a danger for students.

Michael Penn  /  Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

"I know yesterday alone we had reports of three vehicles not stopping for buses," Juneau Police Officer John Cryderman said as he observed school buses filled with Dzantiki'i Heeni Middle School students leave the school area. "It seems to be a big problem usually when school first starts. People get used to the summer when the buses aren't around. Our goal is to be out there during school times when the buses are prevalent."

Cryderman said many vehicles notice the buses and look for students crossing, but fail to realize if lights are flashing they are supposed to wait until they stop and the buses move. Cryderman said that the morning school arrival and mid-afternoon departure times, along with mid-day kindergarten releases are most dangerous.

"We try to be out there to make sure people are giving buses the right of way," Cryderman said.

A press release from the JPD reminded drivers to be vigilant for the increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic and to allow extra time for getting to destinations. Pedestrians are reminded to cross roads only at crosswalks, and to watch for passing vehicles. Pedestrians are also encouraged to wear bright-colored clothing and to walk in groups. Parents are reminded to talk with their children about safety issues when going to and from school the release said. These issues include horseplay near the roadway or bus stops, pedestrian safety, stranger danger, and bicycle safety.

The department is going to actively enforce the speed limit within school zones, said JPD Sergeant David Campbell.

"A ticket for exceeding the posted speed limit in a school zone is six points on the license and a required mandatory court appearance," Campbell said. "A person would have to go talk to a judge and explain why they did that. And for people who go around school buses with their flashing red lights and stop signs extended, that is a misdemeanor offense."

According to Campbell that would be a "B" misdemeanor and possible jail time.

"Violations are punishable by monetary fines, once you start talking about misdemeanors it is potential time in Lemon Creek," Campbell said. "It's a very serious situation and drivers should understand that the schools are back in operation and to adjust accordingly by giving themselves more time so they are not driving around a school bus or speeding in the school zone."

Contact Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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