Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, Cleveland Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol are raising awareness in a campaign to keep school children safe this year.
“Students who drive to school also need to be aware of busy roadways, especially as they approach school zones,” said Sheriff Tim Gobble.
“Traffic-related crashes are the No. 1 killer in Bradley County other than death by natural causes,” Gobble added.
Fourteen people have died on thoroughfares in Bradley County this year.
Students who wait to board a school bus should wear light or reflective clothing. Some book bags and backpacks are finished or highlighted with reflective materials.
Deputies are patrolling and observing school zones to raise a level of safety and awareness to drivers.
“As thousands of students return to the classroom on foot or in school buses, we want to remind everyone to be extra cautious around school zones,” said Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell.
“The goal of the Tennessee Highway Patrol is to help local law enforcement and schools protect children from drivers who may be distracted, impatient or careless,” he added.
According to THP data, “In 2009, troopers issued 5,445 citations in school zones. Of those citations, 973 were speeding violations, while one citation was handed out for passing a stopped school bus. There has been a 15.9 percent decrease in the number of crashes occurring in school zones between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and the hours of 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., since 2006. There was also a 13.5 percent decline in the number of school bus-related crashes between those same hours.”
Traffic enforcement officers and troopers urge motorists to “ ... be alert, slow down and be careful in school zones, while also encouraging caregivers to educate children on safety measures when walking, biking or riding the bus to school, according to THP.”
“Motorists should be aware that the speed limit is 15 mph in school zones and the fine for speeding in a school zone is up to $500. It is also against the law to pass a school bus when it is stopped and loading or unloading passengers. The driver can be fined no less than $250 and up to $1,000,” according to THP statements.
“Motorists can expect stiff penalties for driving unsafely in school zones and for placing our children at risk while doing so,” said THP Colonel Mike Walker. “But there is no punishment more severe than the lifelong guilt and remorse for hitting or killing a child. We are asking everyone to do their part to help a Tennessee child make it to school and home safely.”