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Chief's Corner: Drivers: Slow down for back-to-school season

Back-to-school events begin this week and should serve as a reminder for drivers to slow down and watch for children.

While school does not officially start until Monday, a variety of back-to-school activities will result in increased pedestrian and vehicle traffic in the area.

Parents planning to have their children walk to school or a neighborhood bus stop should take time now to practice the route with their child.

Drivers are reminded that failing to stop for a child attempting to cross the roadway can result in a fine of $50.

Frequently, a child will hesitate on the side of the roadway waiting for traffic to clear. The child may dart unexpectedly into the roadway in an attempt to cross.

When approaching a crosswalk slow down and give the pedestrian the right of way.

Overtaking a school bus when the bus is displaying flashing red lights and the stop arm is extended can result in a fine of $100. Bus drivers are instructed to provide adequate notice of their intent to stop and allow traffic to clear before extending the stop arm. While the fine may be $100, the violation carries an assessment of six points against your driving record. A six-point violation is reported to your insurance company and is one-half the points necessary to suspend your driving privileges.

If you are under the age of 18, your driving privileges are suspended when you accumulate six or more points against your driving record.

Speeding in a school zone carries a minimum fine of $40. Signs clearly mark the beginning and end of the school zone areas.

The city of West Fargo has also installed driver feedback boards near the elementary schools to provide drivers a visual reference of their speed.

Parents unloading school-age children in the middle of the roadway has also been a common complaint near schools. Stopping in the roadway to discharge a passenger is a $20 fine. It is also extremely dangerous for the child. Each school is designed with a safe drop-off location. Drivers are encouraged to use the drop-off sites.

West Fargo police will have an increased number of patrol officers working in and around the schools through the first week of school. Throughout the school year, normal patrol activity directs officers to be in the area of the schools during the morning assembly and afternoon release.

Slow down and be alert in the school zone. Let’s all work together to make it another safe school season.

Reitan is the West Fargo chief of police.