CRESTVIEW — Minimal opening-week school zone traffic stops have Crestview Police officers breathing easier and hoping for safer school crossings throughout the rest of the academic year.
Crestview police reported just two stops along school routes. Meanwhile, reworked traffic patterns have relieved some of the back-ups and congestion that plagued several school zones.
“This has been awesome,” Officer Sam Kimmons said from his crossing assignment at Crestview High School. “In years past, we’ve had parents trying to turn off (State Road) 85 and blocking the intersection.”
Auxiliary Sgt. Al Humphrey, who also guards the crosswalk near Shoal River Middle and Riverside Elementary Schools, said the main problem at the high school zone is drivers who don’t pay attention to the zone’s beginning and end.
“Most drivers are OK, but we hear a few, ‘But the school zone started way back there!’ (comments)” Humphrey said. “Yes, but it’s still active up here.”
LESS BACK-UP AT ANTIOCH
At Antioch Elementary School, where more than 100 parents usually drive their children to school, traffic often backs up as far as Antioch Road, Officer Wanda Hulion said.
However, this year has been a pleasant surprise, despite the expected afternoon congestion, she said.
“So far everything’s going real smooth,” Hulion said. “I’m real surprised.”
Increased traffic on the heavily traveled P.J. Adams Parkway/Antioch Road corridor remains cause for concern, Hulion said.
“You’re going to have the occasional driver coming through who doesn’t notice the (school zone) lights,” she said. “You get a lot of out-of-towners who use Antioch as a bypass around Crestview and they’re not familiar with the school zones. We have to make people aware, hey, you gotta slow down.”
Police spokesman Lt. Andrew Schneider said parents need to plan to encounter heavy traffic in some school zones during drop-off and pick-up periods.
“When officers are working in school zones for crossing children, they cannot also direct traffic for parents exiting the school,” Schneider said.
Because there is no budget money to rehire crossing guards whose positions were eliminated at the start of the 2013-14 fiscal year, officers are pulled from patrol duties to protect students, Schneider said.
“Their attentions cannot be divided between the safe crossing of children walking to school and for parents electing to drive their children, as those walking are not afforded the same safety as those in vehicles,” he said.