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Reitan: School season ahead, slow down, watch for children

School registration begins this week and should serve as a reminder for drivers to slow down and watch for children. While school does not officially start until August 27 a variety of back to school activities will be occur resulting 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 $50. 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 $50 another consideration is the violation carries an assessment of 6 points against your driving record. A 6 point violation is reported to your insurance company and is one half the points necessary to suspend your driving privileges.

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 as also installed driver feed back 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.

The 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.

Mike Reitan is the assistant West Fargo police chief