Police Keeping Close Eye On School Zones As School Goes Back In Session

Colorado Springs police say school zones are their top priority as thousands of students return to class this week.

District 11--the largest district in the city--and districts 12 and 20 start back up Monday. Our partners at The Gazette report that Springs motorcycle cops started watching school zones a week ago. The officers are looking for speeders and distracted drivers traveling in the same places children cross through to get to class.

"All officers in the patrol division are aware of the school zones, but it's the No. 1 priority for the motor police," Lt. Bret Poole told The Gazette.

It's not just school zones; Springs police reminders drivers to be conscientious of school buses. Based on Colorado law, drivers must stop their vehicles at least 20 feet before a stopped school bus that has its red lights flashing, regardless of the side of the road it is on. The law states that drivers must remain at a stop until the red lights stop flashing and the stop arm folds back.

CSPD released a list of safety tips by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for students to follow:

• Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
• When the bus approaches, stand at least 6 feet away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
• Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it's okay before stepping onto the bus.
• If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least 10 feet ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.
• Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing or backpacks don't get caught in the handrails or doors.
• Never walk behind the bus.
• If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.

Drive Smart released additional tips for students, parents and drivers:

• Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available. When on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
• Before crossing a street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if cars are coming.
• Cross streets at crosswalks when available.
• Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to pick up or drop off children. Drivers need to slow and prepare to stop.
• Watch carefully for children near the school bus and children crossing the roadway.