With South Beloit starting school on Wednesday, and many other area schools starting soon, motorists are urged to exercise more caution on roadways and start watching for flashing lights. Just because one doesn't see children in a school area, doesn't mean they aren't there.
"If people could just be mindful of the lights and slow down, Monday through Friday, it would be greatly appreciated," said South Beloit School District Superintendent Scott Fisher.
Fisher said the biggest struggle in South Beloit is people driving around school buses when bus lights are flashing. Motorists are urged to stay behind the bus until it's finished dropping off or picking up kids.
"Drivers are not always respectful of the bus and when the arm is extended," he said.
South Beloit School District also works to keep kids safe who are crossing Route 2/Blackhawk Boulevard across from Blackhawk Junior High. Ten years ago the district put up flashing yellow lights and made it a crossing walk with a crossing guard. When lights are flashing, people are asked to honor the 15 miles per hour speed limit. If a crossing guard is going across, motorists need to stop where the lines are drawn near the crosswalk.
Fisher said, unfortunately, people sometimes don't see a child and keep going their usual speed instead of honoring the lights and slowing down.
Over the summer Fisher said drivers get accustomed to not having to slow down for school arrival and dismissal time.
In South Beloit, Fisher said Clark Elementary start-up and dismissal time is 8 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.; Riverview, 8 a.m. - 2:35 p.m.; South Beloit High School; 8:30 a.m. - 3:25 p.m.; and Blackhawk Junior High, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
On Aug. 14, the Illinois State Police (ISP) District 16 issued a press release stating motorists should watch out for slowed or stopped school buses, crosswalks and children walking or riding their bikes to and from school as well as kids possibly darting out from between parked cars. Motorists were urged to plan ahead and be ready for increased traffic flow.
The speed limit in school zones is 20 mph and is in effect from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m. on school days when children are present. Driving while talking on a hand-held cellular device is strictly prohibited, as well as texting while driving. A first time offense and any subsequent offense is considered a moving violation.
Motorists approaching a stopped school bus with lights activated and a sign extended must stop their vehicle before reaching the school bus. Failure to do so can result in a $150 fine and a three-month driver's license suspension. Pedestrians have the right-of-way in a crosswalk.