|Messenger photo by Whitney Wilson Coy|
|Mayor Michael Coleman tells passing vehicles on Mound Street to "slow down" as they pass the flashing lights that signify a school zone. Police will be strictly enforcing speed limits in the school zones, the mayor warned.|
Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and other community leaders want drivers to learn one lesson as children return to school: Slow down!
"I want the drivers of the City of Columbus to understand that these 56,000 students will be walking around the City of Columbus in mass numbers. We have to protect our children," said Coleman Aug. 27, as he, City Schools Superintendent Gene Harris and others met at West Mound Elementary School to turn on newly installed safety lights.
Coleman warned residents that beginning Aug. 29, the Columbus Division of Police Motorcycle Unit will begin strict enforcement of posted speed limits in school zones.
Posted speed limits are enforced in schools zones during the hours that children are being dropped off and picked up from school.
Last year, Columbus officers wrote more than 6,700 citations and gave more than 450 warnings in school zones during restricted hours.
"We want to make sure that they grow up safe," said Coleman of the children.
Harris gave parents and drivers tips on how to help ensure the safety of Columbus children.
"Leave early enough so that if you are stopped behind a bus you won’t be impatient because you aren’t going to be late," she said.
Harris added that all parents have a responsibility to talk with their children and help them understand safety.
City Council member Hearcel Craig also spoke about the importance of keeping children out of harm’s way.
"These sidewalks, crosswalks and signals will allow our most cherished resource, our children, to walk to school so they can get an education," he said.
Coleman urged all in attendance to realize that no matter how many safety measures are in use, the safety of kids on the street lies solely in the hands of drivers.
"You can’t put it on other people, he said. "You have to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I will not speed on the way to work,’" said Coleman.
The completion of the warning lights signifies the near end of a $2 million upgrade program that began in 2000.
West Mound is number 102 out of 106 schools that were slated to have upgrades to crosswalks, safety lights and signs at the beginning of the project.