The Dispatch

"SLOW DOWN." That's the message the Lexington Police Department has flashing across a mobile billboard now that school is back in session.

Officers have stepped up traffic enforcement around school zones, trying to get the point across that speeding will not be tolerated.

It's a clear message from local police that summer is over, students are back in school, and drivers need to slow down.

"Motorists should have the opportunity to be warned," said Lexington Police Chief John Lollis. "It is not our goal to write everyone tickets but to keep everyone safe. The signs telling people to slow down won't be there forever, but our enforcement will."

The mobile message board, which was purchased in the spring through a grant from the Governor's Highway Safety Program, reads, "Speed Limit Strictly Enforced. School is in Session. SLOW DOWN." The message board is currently on North Main Street when coming into Lexington from Interstate 85 Business Loop.

Driving through school zones or getting stuck behind a school bus can mean longer travel times to work, but police offer a simple solution.

"Now that school's in session you may want to leave your house a little earlier so you won't be delayed or tempted to speed," said Lexington Police Capt. Jimmy Truell.

A traffic unit specifically assigned to enforce speed limits around school zones has been deployed, Truell said. The police department also has five crossing guards dispatched to help children cross dangerous intersections before and after school.

School speed zones in Lexington are set at 25 miles per hour. They are in effect from 7:30-8:15 a.m. and again from 2:30-3:30 p.m.

"You have to be observant and have to read the road, read the signs and be aware of what time of day it is when you are traveling through a school zone," Truell said.