Since local schools will soon be opening their doors to thousands of anxious children and teenagers, Chief of Police Freddy Drennan would like to remind everyone that safety is the Slidell Police Department’s main priority – and should be everyone’s priority. With this in mind, the following is an important reminder to school-attending pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists:
• School zones are in effect Monday through Friday from 7:00 – 9:00 a.m. and from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
• School crossing guards have the authority to direct vehicles through intersections when the traffic lights are red and to stop vehicles when the traffic lights are green. Motorists who are approaching school zones are urged to pay attention to the school crossing guards for hand signals and directions. This will keep traffic moving as smoothly and efficiently as possible and eliminate violations and/or traffic crashes.
School crossing guards observing violations, will write down license plate numbers and turn the information over to patrol division personnel for later enforcement action. Citations can be issued based on school crossing guard observations and statement of facts. Even if there are no school crossing guards in a particular zone, the school zone is still in effect and all laws and school posted speed limits apply. We want all motorists to be aware that Calvary Baptist Church and School, located at 1516 Old Spanish Trail, has a school zone and is clearly marked with school zone signs and flashing warning lights. The speeding of motorists in this area has been a problem in the past and speeding through this area will be strictly enforced.
• Speeding In School Zones – School zone speed limits will strictly be enforced using radar. Violators will be cited and warnings will not be given. The cash fine for speeding in a school zone depends on the speed. Speeds 1-10 mph over the posted speed limit are $181.00. Speeds 11-15 mph over the limit is $206.00 and speeds 16 mph or more over the limit is $231.00. Speeds exceeding 11 mph or more over the limit are court mandatory, which means the violator must appear in front of the city court judge and explain why he or she put the lives of young children in danger because of speeding.
• All vehicular traffic must stop from either direction no less than 30 ft. from a school bus when the bus' stop signals, which include stop arms and red flashing warning lights, are activated. Vehicles traveling in the opposite direction and who are separated by a median in the roadway do not have to stop, but must remain cautious of the children boarding or exiting the bus. If school bus drivers observe violators, they will write down the license plate numbers and turn the information over to patrol division personnel for later enforcement action. Citations can be issued based on driver observations and statement of facts. The penalty for driving around a stopped school bus loading or unloading children is a cash fine of $631.00 and/or the driver may be imprisoned for up to six months in the city jail.
• Many streets in school zones turn to one-way streets during school zone hours. These streets are equipped with one-way signs indicating the street is one-way during school zone hours. We urge all motorists to pay attention to street signage.
• The parking of vehicles across neighborhood sidewalks is prohibited by city ordinance. The blocked sidewalk causes children to walk around the vehicles and many times into the street where being struck by a passing vehicle are a possibility.
• Parents are urged to teach their children about safety on the way to and from school – such as walking on sidewalks rather than roadways and crossing streets at school crossing guard locations. Students traveling on bicycles are urged to practice basic bicycle safety, listen to school crossing guard instructions and must adhere to all traffic laws.
• Although children know to obey school crossing guards, many adults feel they are exempt. Adults must also obey guard instructions.
Police officers will be monitoring all school zones throughout the city in an effort to remind motorists that school zones are in affect and to issue citations for violations.
Chief Drennan stated, “Most school zone violations and traffic crashes are not committed intentionally but because of inattentive or distracted drivers. Reading newspapers, eating breakfast, applying make-up, talking on cellular telephones, fiddling with the radio or even disruptive children are just a few examples of why violations and crashes occur in school zones. Motorists must have patience, remain attentive and obey all traffic laws – the lives of children depend on good responsible driving!”
School Crossing Guards are still needed as many positions have not been filed. Anyone interested in a position may contact Capt. Rob Callahan at 646-4285 for additional information.