Safety may be the last thing on the minds of Lawrence students as they head back to school this morning. So Lawrence police are asking drivers to exercise a little more caution than normal.
"There will be a lot of excited youngsters running around who may not be paying attention to traffic," Sgt. Rick Nickell said. "Motorists need to be extra careful. We don't want a tragedy."
While care should be taken along any street, Nickell stressed drivers should be especially careful in school zones, where large numbers of children sometimes gather.
He said the city's patrol officers will be watching the school zones too, looking closely for motorists who are disobeying the 20 mph speed limit.
Special school zone speed limits are in effect between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on school days and when children are present, according to an amended ordinance that was approved by Lawrence city commissioners last month.
Nickell said police get frequent calls about speeders in school zones.
"We do quite a bit of selective enforcement around school zones," he said. "It is a continuing problem. The officers are encouraged, when time allows, to be in those school zones, to be watching for violators ... to make sure everyone gets to and from school safely."
Court fines imposed for speeding in school zones are double those ordered for speeding in other areas of the city, Nickell said.
Parents also can help make their child's trip to school a safe one, Nickell said.
He encouraged all parents to remind their children to be careful crossing the street, use available crosswalks, look both ways before stepping into the street and not to run out into the street from between parked cars.