With school back in full swing, it's time to look out for those school zones when driving around Ahwatukee Foothills. It's not uncommon, however, for people to drive carelessly through them, ignoring laws and putting children in unnecessary danger.
The Phoenix Police Department is in the midst of a six-week program to crack down on violations in school zones. During the past four weeks, police have issued more than 60 citations, said Lt. Pat Hofmann with the traffic bureau section of the police department. Most of them, he added, have been for speeding.
"We have zero tolerance in our school zones," Hofmann said. "Fifteen miles per hour max. Anybody who goes over will be contacted and cited."
People who ordinarily drive past school zones should try to avoid these areas by taking an alternate route, said Lt. Mark Tallman, a spokesman with the Phoenix Police Department. Doing so also helps to keep traffic low when parents drop off and pick up their children.
It's not just people driving through who cause problems, though. Parents often forget to obey the traffic laws as well, Tallman said.
Sometimes parents pick up or drop off their children in the roadway, rather than waiting for a designated area to open up.
"This is a traffic hazard, and it's illegal," he said.
Laura Radford, assistant principal at Kyrene de la Colina Elementary School, said she sees a large number of parents and others in their vehicles who are not fully aware. Some have even driven right through crosswalks without paying attention, she said.
While Radford doesn't think the drivers do these things on purpose, she said it still causes safety issues.
"There just needs to be a constant awareness," she said.
Echoing Tallman's words, Radford said parents also need to understand and follow each school's individual pick-up and drop-off zones. Parents can often find this information and more on their school's website.
The most important thing when driving through school zones is to simply be aware, she said. This focus can prepare drivers for whatever may be going on in these areas.
"When you're in a school zone, there are so many variables," Radford said.
Students should also do their part to stay safe. It's as easy as following these tips, courtesy of the Phoenix Fire Department:
• Have a safe place to wait for your bus, away from traffic and the street.
• Stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals you to enter.
• When being dropped off, exit the bus and walk 10 giant steps away from the bus. Keep a safe distance between you and the bus. Remember that the bus driver can see you best when you are away from the bus.
• Use the handrail to enter and exit the bus.
• Stay away from the bus until the driver signals that it's OK to approach.
• Be aware of street traffic around you.
Walking, biking safety
• Mind all traffic signals and/or the crossing guard and never cross the street against a light, even if you don't see any traffic coming.
• Walk your bike through intersections.
• Walk with a buddy.
• Wear reflective material - it makes you more visible to street traffic.
Josh Snyder is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a senior at Arizona State University.