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Sun, Oct. 20

Drivers, be on the lookout as kids go back to school

Take some extra time and slow down.

Beginning Monday, schools around the Prescott area will be back in session. This means more walkers and bicycle traffic around schools and school zones. It also means that school buses will be resuming their routes.

"Back to school is a big issue and we are concerned about people's safety," said Lt. Andrew Reinhardt, Prescott Police. "People still drive around like school is not in session. It requires extra attention at this time of year."

The Prescott Police Department will be enforcing school zone rules and monitoring bus stops.

"We have a very low tolerance for school zone violations," Reinhardt said.

Prescott Valley Police will have its photo radar vans and enforcement units around the school zones.

"We will continue this throughout the year," said Gene McFarland, community services officer. "People should be aware that lots of kids walk and ride bikes to school at this time of year. We recommend that they wear a bike helmet to avoid major injuries."

At all marked school zones, the speed limit is 15 mph and the fine is $455.

Drivers must stop for school buses loading or unloading children. The bus will flash red lights and have the "STOP" arm in use. Drivers in both directions must stop for a school bus unless they are on the opposite side of a divided highway separated by a raised median.

If a driver passes a stopped school bus with children getting on or off, the first violation is $250; the second violation within 36 months is $750 and the third violation is $1,000 with a six to 12 month license suspension.

"A lot of people think they can pass within the school zone, but they cannot overtake someone," Reinhardt said. "If the car next to you is driving at 10 mph, you have to stay slower than that. Also, if children are in the crosswalk, you must remain stopped until they are completely out of the crosswalk, not just out of your half of the roadway."

State law regulates that drivers cannot stop and park in a school zone.

"You can't stop to let a child out at the curb before the school zone," he said.

Contact the reporter at jtwaddell@prescottaz.com

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