With classes starting, be safe in school zones

SAN BENITO — Starting Monday, the community will be witnessing the hustle and bustle of student pick-up and drop-off routines around schools.

That’s why police are reminding drivers they need to be vigilant when entering school zones.

San Benito CISD Police Chief Juan Sosa said there are times when people might be in a hurry and don’t pay attention to what’s going on in the roadway.

However, they need to make sure to slow down when they enter school zones, follow the speed limit and be aware of warning signs.

Early in the morning and late in the afternoon are times in the day when students, faculty and staff are filtering in and out of school zones. Drivers should be most cautious and aware while approaching school zones between 7 and 8 a.m. and anywhere between 3:45 and 4:30 p.m. when school zone traffic lights are on.

The school district has crossing guards and police officers on their campuses who monitor school zone areas and help students safely use crosswalks.

Sosa said “it’s very important for pedestrians to pay attention and be aware of their surroundings by looking both ways to make sure that vehicles see them when they are using crosswalks.”

White stripes run across warning lights in school zones. Sosa said “a lot of the students think it’s a crosswalk, but it’s not.”

“That’s basically telling the driver that it’s the beginning or ending of the school zone and sometimes we have pedestrians that cross in that area,” he said. “So, there’s a possibility that some of these vehicles might not stop for them and it could cause an accident.”

Officers have also noticed some students use earphones or are paying attention to their phone when they approach school zones.

“Pedestrians have the right-of-way on the crosswalk, but that doesn’t mean the driver will actually stop for them,” Sosa said. “So, we’re asking for pedestrians, students and members of the public to please pay attention when approaching crosswalks.”

The district police chief said fortunately, there have not been any pedestrian accidents in crosswalk areas at schools.

“All in all, the majority of our public drives safe in our school zones and of course everyone feels for our children, they’re precious to us,” Sosa said.

Drivers who don’t follow the rules are issued costly citations. Fines for crosswalk or cell phone violations within school zones range from $200 to $500.

San Benito High School has a new traffic plan this school year. The campus has four exists and entrances: North Gate, South Gate, La Palma Drive and Greyhound Lane.

In years past, parents dropped off students at different locations near campus. However, this year, the district released its new traffic plan and wants to keep the student drop-off zone in one area.

Sosa said this is why parents are being asked to drop off their kids by the gymnasium. This will alleviate traffic for staff trying to get to school and will also help keep students safe.

“The campus has always had these designated drop-off zones. However, they were not adhering to them,” he added.

This is why the district is asking parents to please help in protecting the students and follow the plan as much as they can.

“Our main concern is student safety,” Sosa said. “It would give us a big help. It’s for the children’s safety. Their kids are our kids and we just want to keep everybody’s safety in mind.”