Officers Cracking Down On Drivers Who Speed In School Zones

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The Grand Junction Police Department says it's seen an increase in drivers speeding in zones and not slowing down for students at crosswalks, and now officers are ready to do something about it.

In 2006, police issued 221 tickets for speeding school zones. In 2007, that number more than doubled to 538 tickets. Officers say that has largely been a result of expanding their traffic unit and increasing patrol activity, but say the fact that that many people are speeding in school zones is alarming.

To make sure students stay safe as they cross the streets going to and from school, Grand Junction Police say they're stepping up efforts again. They say they will target drivers who go over the 25 mph speed limit while school zone signs are flashing, as well as drivers who fail to stop for children at crosswalks.

Officers say they have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to traffic violations in school zones, and drivers who are caught will be slapped with heavy fines. Speeding ten or more miles per hour over the speed limit in an active school zone slaps four points on your driving record and costs $150. Not stopping at a crosswalk could lead to charges of reckless endangerment, which is a class three misdemeanor.

Officers say they hope these efforts will force drivers to pay more attention when they're near schools.

"If they're not seeing the flashing lights, are they watching for children that might be in crosswalks," said Sergeant Doug Norcross of the Grand Junction Police Department. "So we're trying to avert children, parents, and anybody in and around schools from having a tragedy there."

School District 51 Officials say safety is always a top priority for them and they're constantly working with local law enforcement to improve safety conditions along the streets. When 11 News told them how many tickets had been issued for speeding, they said they were surprised, but added they're impressed with how police have responded to the situation.