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Insight from WFPD: School starting Thursday, officers stepping up patrol

Just a reminder to everyone that school is starting Thursday, Aug. 25 and West Fargo Police will be patrolling all schools in West Fargo during the beginning and conclusion of the school day on both Thursday and Friday.

The presence will be noted on the streets surrounding the schools, with additional officers assigned to patrol outside each of the nine schools, focusing on the enforcement of speed and cross walk violations.

Drivers are reminded to slow down when children are present on or near school property. Most speed zones near schools are 15 mph. Some school zones are signed at 20 mph. School zones are signed to indicate the beginning and end of the area where reduced speeds are required.

Pedestrians have the right of way when they have entered into a marked crosswalk. Drivers must stop their vehicle to allow the pedestrian to safely cross the roadway. Passing a vehicle stopped at a marked crosswalk is illegal and dangerous. A pedestrian may be obscured by the stopped motor vehicle and be at risk for being struck by the passing vehicle.

Motorists are asked to obey the rules around schools and school busses, and to drive with caution at all times.

West Fargo Police ordinance has certain restrictions regarding school zone and vehicle violations, including: a $50 fine for passing a school bus along with six points accessed to the driving record. If the offense involves an individual under the age of 16, they are only issued six total points, which will mean the loss of driving privileges.

Other ordinance stipulations include:

13-1016. Overtaking and passing of school bus.

1. The driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus stopped on the highway shall stop the vehicle before reaching such school bus when there is in operation on said school bus the, flashing red lights specified in Section 39-21-18, North Dakota Cent. Code, and said driver shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion or he is signaled by the school bus driver to proceed or the flashing red lights are no longer actuated.

2. Every school bus shall bear upon the front and rear thereof plainly visible signs containing the word "School Bus" in letters not less than eight inches [20.32 centimeters] in height. When a school bus is being operated upon a highway for purposes other than the actual transportation of children either to or from school or for a school sanctioned activity, all markings thereon indicating "School Bus" shall be covered or concealed.

3. The operator of a school bus equipped with amber caution lights may activate those lights at a distance of not less than three hundred feet [91.44 meters] nor more than five hundred feet [152.4 meters] from the point where school children are to be received or discharged from the bus.

4. Every school bus shall be equipped with red visual signals meeting the requirements of Section 39-21-18, North Dakota Cent. Code, which may be actuated by the driver of said school bus whenever, but only whenever, 13-10-4 such vehicle is stopped on the highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children. A school bus driver shall not actuate said special visual signals:

a. On city streets on which the receiving or discharging of school children is prohibited by ordinance;

b. At intersections or other places where traffic is controlled by traffic-control signals of police officers; or

c. In designated school bus loading areas where the bus is entirely off the roadway.

5. The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with separate roadways need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus which is on a different roadway or when upon a controlled-access highway and the school bus is stopped in a loading zone which is a part of or adjacent to such highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.

6. Every school bus must bear on the rear of the bus a plainly visible sign containing the words "This school bus stops at all railroad crossing." (Source: North Dakota Cent. Code § 39-10-46)