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Authorities will be out in full force Monday as motorists hit the roads on the first day of the public school year. Officials say it’s vital to slow down in school zones and look out for stopped school buses.
“They need to be aware of school zones,” said Sgt. Benny Boykin, who oversees the Wilson Police Department’s Strategic Traffic Enforcement Patrol. “We will be working speed enforcement in school zones. And drivers need to be aware and watch for kids who are getting on and off buses and crossing the streets.”
Boykin said police will be monitoring areas heavily next week to ensure students’ safety. Officials say most people use the same routes each day to work and often forget about the change in speed limits when transitioning from summer to the school year.
Boykin said police wrote 255 school zone violations last school year alone.
“They are mostly speeding violations within a school zone,” Boykin said. He said problematic areas for speeding in school zones include Airport and Packhouse roads, Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and N.C. 42 West.
Drivers should also abide by school bus stop arm laws. It’s against the law to pass a stopped school bus. And officials say those who do are putting children at risk.
BUSES ARE READY TO GO
Wilson County School buses transport 5,100 students each day and cover more than 1 ½ million miles during the academic school years.
Amber Lynch, the school system’s public relations director, said construction in some areas of Wilson may cause delays in pickup, and school officials are asking students to be at their bus stops 10 minutes prior to the printed time. The school bus schedule is inserted in today’s edition of The Wilson Times.
Lynch said schools have been preparing for buses to be in full operation Monday. All 103 buses were road-tested and a 30-day inspection was completed.
Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard said while school buses represent the safest form of highway transportation, there are a number of safety tips both students and drivers should follow.
“Children are often eager to get off the school bus because they are excited to tell their parents about all the fun they had at school that day,” Woodard said. “It is crucial that parents reinforce the school bus safety rules children learn at school.”
Woodard also suggests that parents drive their child’s bus route with them to practice the proper safety precautions they can take to help ensure their child enjoys a safe ride to and from school.
PLAN FOR TRAFFIC
N.C. Highway Patrol 1st Sgt. Steven Dail, who oversees Troop C, District 5 covering Wilson and Greene counties, said troopers will be monitoring drivers, especially on secondary roads.
Dail said drivers should allow themselves more time to get to their destination next week and be patient. Authorities say drivers should also plan for delays during the early morning and afternoon hours due to school traffic.