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Slow Down for Children

Last Thursday, December 11th, I was driving down Main Street in Arkoma, Oklahoma, when I was pulled over by an Arkoma police officer. He informed me that I was traveling beyond the speed limit while in a school zone. I was driving around 30 miles per hour, and the speed limit when children are present is 25 miles per hour.

Many drivers fail to understand what is meant when the sign says “when children are present.” The phrase, “when children are present” refers to when children are arriving at or leaving school during opening or closing hours or during recess periods. At those times, children are considered present and the posted lower speed limit must be followed, which is usually 25 miles per hour. At all other times, motorists should use caution, but can drive at the designated speed limit for the street. Here in Fort Smith, the school zone lights will start flashing thirty minutes prior to school starting and thirty minutes after school is released.

A school zone is defined as a section of street or highway that abuts the grounds of a school where children have access to the road from the school property. The zone also can include crosswalks near schools where young pedestrians are often present. In my recent encounter, I did not carefully check my surroundings and take notice of the time. I was driving through a school zone at 3:10 p.m., which is around the time children are dismissed from school. Luckily, the gracious police officer let me off with a warning. Despite not receiving a ticket, I decided that I should learn from my mistake and educate the public on school speed limits signs and school zones.

Always be on the lookout and obey the speed limit to help ensure the safety of our children and the community.