Slow down, drivers. School is in session.
With classes beginning this week in several East Valley districts, drivers need to be alert for school zones that have been gone the past few weeks during summer break.
Those same drivers will have extra police patrol watching as reminders.
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is providing funds for extra vigilance during the few two weeks of classes in Mesa in order to get drivers back into the “school” routine, including those 15 mph school zones.
“The intensive enforcement will continue through the first two weeks of classes. While traffic enforcement is a year-round priority for the Mesa Police Department, these high profile areas will be heavily patrolled during this two-week period,” the Mesa Police department stated in a release.
Classes begin Monday in Tempe Union High School and Higley Unified School districts. Tempe Elementary School District begins Tuesday. Apache Junction, Mesa and Gilbert unified school districts begin Wednesday.
Classes in the Chandler and Queen Creek unified school districts began late last month.
Like Mesa, police enforcement in surrounding communities will also be increased around schools as classes begin. Officers will be present to deter criminals, as well as remind the public of traffic laws.
According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Association, three children were killed daily and 469 children were injured daily as a result of vehicle crashes in 2011.
More than 4,200 pedestrians were killed in 2010. Just last week, a pedestrian was killed on the Mesa-Tempe border when he was struck or walked into the path of a lightrail train.
Police departments ask parents to remind their children to be aware of vehicles and safety issues among the excitement of the first week of school.
A few tips from the Tempe Police Department include:
• Children should be taught age-appropriate personal safety; to be alert and aware of surroundings.
• Children should never accept a ride from anyone not specifically designated by a parent or caregiver.
• Children should not allow anyone unknown to them to entice them into close proximity for any reason.
• Do not wear earphones that hinder the ability to hear a stranger or vehicle approach when walking.
• Children should travel to and from school in groups, and with adult supervision whenever possible.
• Children should be encouraged to report suspicious behavior, or any behavior in which they feel uncomfortable or confused, to a trusted adult caregiver such as a parent, guardian, teacher, nurse or police officer.
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