2017-08-11 / Life

Police remind Lampasas residents to follow school-zone laws

BY DEREK MOY
DISPATCH RECORD


Lampasas Police Department School Resource Officer Jeff Phillips and other officers will watch for drivers not following state laws during next week’s start of school. The intersection behind him, U.S. Highway 281, recently had construction done, adding a turn lane. 
DEREK MOY | DISPATCH RECORD Lampasas Police Department School Resource Officer Jeff Phillips and other officers will watch for drivers not following state laws during next week’s start of school. The intersection behind him, U.S. Highway 281, recently had construction done, adding a turn lane. DEREK MOY | DISPATCH RECORD It’s almost time for school to start, and the Lampasas Police Department wants to remind residents to travel safely through school zones, obey traffic laws, and be aware of at least one major intersection change.

Lampasas High School’s entrance has been modified by the Texas Department of Transportation. TxDOT has added a longer right-turn lane into the campus from the U.S. Highway 281 southbound side.

TxDOT also has added a left-turn lane to the northbound side of U.S. 281 near its intersection with Naruna Road.

“Pay attention to the new traffic pattern out there,” Lt. Chuck Montgomery said. “The turn lane is going to be a good thing out there. It’ll allow a dedicated lane for left turns to prevent a majority of crashes out there.

“The majority of crashes out there were caused by drivers not paying attention and rear-ending the traffic turning left,” he said.

In addition to the highway changes, Chief of Police Sammy Bailey noted that school will start on a Thursday this year, instead of a Monday as has been traditional.

“It may be like two first days of school,” Ms. Bailey said, “because you’re going to want to take your children [on Thursday], then you’ve got that little break, and you’ll need to start over again.”

Having a two-day first week, then a weekend, followed by a full week of school will add patrol days for the police department, Montgomery said.

“From our standpoint, in years past we have dedicated an officer to each school zone for a week,” he said. “With the first week being only two days, drivers can expect to see us longer than those first two days. We’ll be back the week after, doing the same thing.”

Another item to pay attention to while driving is school buses. Traffic is required to stop on both sides of the roadway when bus lights are flashing and the stop sign is out. Driving around a school bus or not stopping on the opposite side of traffic can result in an injury to a student or a fine for a driver.

“They’re hefty penalties – a maximum fine of $1,250 – which is unique, as most Transportation Code violations have a max of a $500 fine,” Montgomery said.

The police lieutenant added that bus drivers can take note of a violator’s license plate and forward that to the police department, which will investigate and likely fine the violator.

“If a bus driver was to have that violation occur to them and they could identify the driver, it would not have to be caught by a police officer,” Montgomery said. “They could come in and sign a complaint against the violator.”

School resource officers for this year will be Will Sneed and Jeff Phillips.

School zones for each LISD campus are unchanged, with elementary schools having all-day school zones. Lampasas Middle School has a slower speed limit from 7-8 a.m. and from 3-4:30 p.m.

It is illegal to use a cell phone in a school zone, unless it is in hands-free mode, Montgomery said. Even those talking on a cell phone, holding it up to their ear, are violating the law.

Seat belt usage, buckling of children in safety seats and leaving children unattended in an empty vehicle all will be watched, Montgomery added.

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