Police target drivers ignoring school zone speed limits

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The Columbus Division of Police Motorcycle Unit kept a vigilant eye on Demorest Road Wednesday morning as students in the South-Western City School District headed to the first day of class at Franklin Heights High School.

Officer Robert Johnson said it's critical for drivers to stay alert.

"The kids, they're excited to get to school. They're probably going to be waiting to run across that street," said Officer Johnson.

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The Columbus Police Motorcycle Unit is infiltrating school zones to target drivers caught ignoring the 20 miles per hour speed limit.

"It's not uncommon to get people at 40 miles an hour," said Officer Johnson.

He said he once witnessed not one, but two drivers go around a stopped bus with flashing lights and an extended stop sign. Officer Johnson said he sometimes questions what drivers are thinking.

"You've got the flashing lights. You've got school buses. You've got kids walking on the sidewalk. I'm not sure," he said shaking his head.

Police said there's a reason why they take speeding in school zones so seriously. Officers remember a tragic accident in September of 2016 when an 11-year-old boy was struck and killed by a car while walking to Woodward Park Middle School in north Columbus.

Crash investigators said they believed the driver was observing the 20 mile-per-hour speed limit but wasn't able to stop in time.

In 2017, the CPD Motorcycle Unit wrote 1,839 citations related to school zones.

Police say schools, where they encounter frequent violators, include Woodcrest Elementary on Livingston Avenue, Weinland Park Elementary, and West Mound Elementary.

Police said all three schools are located near arterial or connector roads where it's easier for drivers to build up speed.

As Columbus City School students head back to class tomorrow, police caution they have a no zero tolerance policy. Anyone caught speeding in a school zone or failing to yield to a school bus will receive a citation, not a warning.