Aug 30, 2013 9:22 AM by Maddie Garrett

Police: We can't catch half of speeders in school zones

When most parents send their kids off to school, they assume they're going into a safe environment. But a News 5 investigation has uncovered just the opposite. Drivers are speeding through school zones at alarming numbers. And what's equally alarming, police have a hard time stopping it.

"People more than likely drive this road every day going to work so they should be aware that there's a school zone that flashes here," said Colorado Springs Motorcycle Officer Lee Doll.

Despite the flashing lights, the signs and even the cops posted up in front of the school, Officer Doll said dozens of people blow through the school zone in front of Will Rogers Elementary every day. Some drivers are going double the 20 mile an hour speed limit.

"A lot of times I've come around and yeah they speed through here and it's really dangerous for the kids, there's a cross walk right there," said parent Arista Boddie.

Boddie's daughter is in second grade at Will Rogers. She said the problem used to be worse until more police started patrolling her daughter's school.

"There's usually a cop that sits right there now, it's starting to get better because there's cops now," she said.

Some drivers get caught, but most get away. Police say they just can't do it all.

"We've got about 100 school zones in town and you've got about 20 motor officers that enforce that," explained Doll.

Officer Doll said on an average morning, with a school zone that lasts an hour, an officer can catch about three to four speeders. But he said that's not even half of the drivers who are actually speeding.

"If you're writing four tickets there's probably eight people that deserve tickets that are not getting tickets," he said.

Officer Doll said they're doing their best to catch as many speeders as possible, but it's up to drivers to slow down and pay attention.

"People need to focus on what they're doing, a lot of people say they don't see the signs blinking," said Doll.

Turns out, many people aren't paying attention. A 2009 study from Safe Kids USA found one out of every six drivers in a school is distracted. The most common distraction was an electronic device, such as a cell phone.

And every year, roughly 100 children in the U.S. die while walking to and from school, according to a 2010 study from the Transportation Research Board.

Officer Doll said a lot times, it's the parents who are dropping their kids off at school who are speeding through the school zone. He explained that the 20 mph limit was established for a reason, to allow children to make mistakes.

"If you're doing 20 miles an hour you can actually slow a car down and get it stopped before you strike a child. Because I think that's the last thing anybody would want to have happen, injure or kill a child because you're going too fast," Doll reiterated.

Speeding through school zones is not only unsafe, it can be expensive. Traffic fines double in school zones, which means if you're caught going five over the speed limit, that's a $100 fine. 10 mph over is $200 and 20 mph over will hit you with a $400 fine.

Police also remind drivers that it's also illegal to pass a school bus that has red lights flashing and a stop sign out. The school bus law not only applies to drivers behind the school bus, but for vehicles in the opposite lane headed toward the bus.



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