Police ask drivers to use caution as kids head back to school

Published 4:35 pm Monday, August 7, 2017

As children prepare to return to school later this week, the Elizabethton Police Department is asking motorists to drive carefully when near schools.

During the last few years, the Elizabethton Police Department has seen an increase in complaints about drivers speeding through school zones, EPD Sgt. Will Johnson said. In response, the Department stepped up school zone enforcement and officers will be out again this year making sure motorists are following the posted speed limit.

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“Our worst area is around the High School on Bemberg Road and Jason Witten Way,” Johnson said. The second worst area for school zone speeding is around T.A. Dugger Junior High School, according to Johnson.

“Last year during the school year we wrote 81 speeding citations,” Johnson said. “The maximum speed on those citations was 41 miles per hour. That’s well over twice the speed limit of 15 mph.”

“It’s definitely a safety issue,” Johnson continued. “We will be actively targeting it again this year.”

Another concern around the schools is the safety of the children as they cross the street.

“We did have a child struck in a school zone last year at T.A. Dugger,” Johnson said.

That accident was not due to a motorist speeding but rather the child stepping out in front of the vehicle, Johnson said.

Police are asking motorists to keep an eye out for children who may be walking to or from school, not just in the immediate area of the school but in the surrounding neighborhoods as well.

“Every morning and afternoon on Bemberg Road children are crossing the road because many of them live in those neighborhoods,” Johnson said.

Another safety issue for the students happens when motorists pass a stopped school bus that is picking up or dropping off children. Johnson said the department did not receive a significant number of complaints regarding this driver behavior, but it does happen from time to time, and the officers will be watching for it.

“It’s all for the safety of the children,” Johnson said.

Students in Elizabethton City Schools will go to school on Thursday, August 10, for a half-day. Friday, August 11, is a teacher work day with no classes for students. The first full day for City Schools will be on Monday, August 14.