COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the school year kicks off, officers across central Ohio are encouraging drivers to slow down in school zones — especially as traffic violations in school zones continue to increase.
“School is back in session and we want to remember our little ones who may forget the rules about crossing the street,” said Sgt. Isaac Bridges with the Columbus Police Traffic Division.
So far in 2023, Columbus police have issued more than 500 citations for traffic violations in school zones. In 2022, there were about 1,400 citations given all year.
Sgt. Bridges with the Columbus Division of Police said the city is on track to have just as many if not more citations by the end of this year. On top of that, police continue to see drivers who are confused about what to do at a pedestrian-assisted crosswalk and when driving behind a school bus.
“We have this problem primarily in the Ohio State area. Whenever you have a crosswalk with flashing lights, when those lights are flashing, you are required to stop,” said Sgt. Bridges.
Another big problem Sgt. Bridges said officers continue to write tickets for distracted driving in school zones. He said drivers think that because they're going slow, they can do other things while they drive. Officers want to remind drivers that being on their phones or distracted in any way while driving in a school zone is not safe.
“People have a sense of security thinking, 'I'm going slow, I have more than enough time to take evasive action if I need to, I can look down at my phone real quick', but it only takes a second for a child to run out in front of you. You look down, you look up, there's a kid there, what are you going to do,” said Sgt. Bridges.
The problem is similar in Delaware County. Sgt. Mike Scalley with the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office said drivers don’t realize how quickly speeds change around their schools.
"We have multiple different kinds of school zones, some that are more rural, and go from 55 mph speed limit down to that restricted 25 mph speed limit. We have some schools that sit right in the middle of a subdivision, we have to watch for kids that walk to school and bike to school” said Sgt. Scalley.