Back to school safety: Motorists be aware of school zones

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By Sarah Bennett

Though the heavy summer heat still looms over Hardin County, students must trudge back to school on Wednesday, and for parents and motorists, this means refamiliarizing ourselves with school zones and looking out for students crossing streets.

“We strongly encourage parents to obey all traffic signs, traffic lights and speed limits for the safety of the children,” said Gary French, superintendent of Elizabethtown Independent schools.

School zones are located throughout the county. Virgil Willoughby, Elizabethtown Police Department’s public information officer, said motorists need to watch for zones’ flashing lights and decreasing speed limits.

School zones vary depending on the individual roadways, Willoughby said. For example, North Miles Street’s speed limit decreases from 45 mph to 25 mph in the Elizabethtown High School zone.

On Wednesday, as well as later in the week, he said, EPD officers will be present at each of the school zones to ensure motorists slow down in those areas.

“You don’t want to get a ticket the first day back to school, especially if you’re a student,” Willoughby said.

Bryce Shumate, spokesman for the Radcliff Police Department, said RPD also would be monitoring school zones.

He stressed for motorists to be alert and patient with students, to keep an eye out for children and to not pass loading buses.

“Kids are anxious and excited about (going) back to school,” he said. “You remember your first day of school.”

John Skaggs, Hardin County Schools director of transportation, said the school district has had trouble in the past with motorists failing to obey school stop signs, and has reported these drivers to the police.

John Wright, public information officer for Hardin County Schools, said buses pick up students as early as 6 a.m. and run throughout the day. Activity buses drop students off as late as 6 p.m.

One of the reasons for picking students up so early before school is to avoid congested roadways, French said.

As for students and their parents, Wright said to stay on the sidewalk and away from the road while waiting for the bus.

Students need to wait for the bus driver to motion before crossing any streets, he said.

French said students should be on time to the bus stop to avoid running to meet the bus.

Finally, students and parents should always be aware of changing weather patterns, Shumate said.

Right now, it’s hot and sunny during the morning and afternoon bus commutes, and parents need to make sure the students are hydrated, he said. However, as fall and winter approach, it will become darker in the mornings, and Shumate recommends parents attach something reflective to their child’s backpack to ensure motorists can see them.

Skaggs said normally students are not allowed to bring food and drink onto buses, but Hardin County Schools is allowing them to bring clear water bottles on the buses for the first few days of school.

French said because of the proximity of bus stops to the Elizabethtown Independent schools, students are not allowed to bring water bottles on the E’town buses. If the district finds it necessary, it will provide students with water.

For Hardin County Schools bus information, go to www.hardin.k12.ky.us/trans/default.htm or call John Skaggs at (270) 769-8890. For Elizabethtown Independent Schools, go to www.etown.k12.ky.us/Transportation.asp.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.