Drivers Urged to be Cautious on the Road as Kids Return to School

Published 08/18 2014 05:30PM

Updated 08/18 2014 06:17PM

More than 73,000 Fresno Unified students returned to school Monday. Fresno police officers stepped up their patrol around schools to enforce speed limit laws.

The start of the school year is also an opportunity for parents to talk with their children about how to stay safe traveling to and from school and for drivers to remember to slow down around school zones.

"Well I know 25 [mph] is way too fast, so I would say go about 15 miles per hours because the children don't pay attention. Very often, they just run out," says Lydia Delgado, a parent who picked up her child on the first day of school.

"My granddaughter is one of those that runs. Just runs," says Josie Mendietta.

Around some Fresno schools, a blinking sign lets drivers know when they're driving too fast, like the one near Hamilton Magnet School.

"There's a lot of people who live in the neighborhood that don't have kids. They need to be cognizant of the school zones and the area," says Mike Jones, principal at Hamilton Magnet School.

But for those who aren't careful, Fresno police have stepped up their efforts by dedicating nine police officers to patrol around schools.

"[We're] trying to enforce speeding, cross walk violations, and anything else that we find safe or unsafe," says Sgt. Gary Beer with the Fresno Police Department's traffic division.

Police are reminding parents and all drivers to be safe: If you park across the street, don't wave to your children to cross over because they can get hit. Instead, get out of your car and walk them.

Parents we spoke with also urge other drivers to be aware of their surroundings when getting into cars and backing out.

"Remember that they're little, and sometimes you can't see them," Mendietta says.

For children who walk home, school officials and police say now is a good time to remind kids not to talk to strangers.

"Make sure they don't just get into the car with the neighbor guy because they know him," Beer says. "And obviously, there's people out there that are using ploys or rouses to get kids in the car."

Children who ride bikes to school should wear helmets, walk their bikes at crosswalks, and ride in the same direction as traffic.

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