‘You really just need to watch out for the kids’: School zones active as kids head back to class

A D-11 crossing guard watches traffic at the corner of Chelton and Galley roads on the first day of school Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Thousands of students headed back to class Wednesday as summer comes to an end for Colorado Springs School District 11.

Now that class is in session, drivers need to be on the lookout for students as they drive through school zones.

“People have to get used to the speed limits in school zones starting up again. If you see the flashing lights, they’re reminding you the school zone speed limit is 20 mph. Please abide by that,” said Sgt. Travis Kitowski, the school resource officer supervisor for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

11 News morning reporter Jenna Middaugh took the station’s speed gun out to Mark Twain Elementary School to see how fast people drove past the school.

On the first day of class, she caught a driver going 35 when the school zone lights were flashing, meaning the speed limit was 20 mph.

The day before school started, she clocked a driver going 39 mph in a 30. Had the school zone been active, that driver would have been nearly going double the school zone speed limit.

“The speed is a big problem on the hill especially,” said Joan Mills, who lives just up the street from Mark Twain Elementary.

Mills said she’s lived in her house for more than 20 years and has seen traffic become more and more of a problem – especially when students are walking to school.

“We have from the very, very little kids – a lot of times who are walking by themselves even – to bigger kids, and they don’t watch the traffic as well as they should,” she said. “So the speed is a big thing here.”

Mills said she has seen police officers patrolling the roads around Twain.

“It’s nice to have a policeman out here periodically so that they do catch these speeders,” she said. “You really just need to watch out for the kids.”

Keep in mind, if you’re caught speeding in a school zone, the fine is double.

“We want compliance, and that’s the whole reason we’re out there writing tickets. We want compliance and for folks to do the right thing and keep our kids in our community safe,” said Sgt. Jason Reeser, a member of the Colorado Springs Police Department’s motorcycle unit.

He said the traffic unit makes school zones a priority before and after school.

According to the city of Colorado Springs, the school zone speed limits last 50 minutes at the beginning and end of the school day. In the morning, the flashing lights start 40 minutes before the first bell and last 10 minutes after. In the afternoon, the school zone starts 10 minutes before the final bell of the day and lasts 40 minutes after.

The city said it meets with school districts about two months in advance to set the flashing lights according to the district and school calendars.