How to drive and cross in a school zone

Eau Claire (WQOW) — You send your kids off to school every day with hopes they’re safe every step of the way. Area crossing guards do their best, but say there needs to be a more clear understanding from drivers on what safe really is in a school zone.

“Have to be really careful out here when I got the kids out here,” said Helen Finch, lead crossing guard for Longfellow Elementary. “A lot of people are very good, they’ll slow down, but the biggest share of them just go through really fast.”

Helen Finch has been a crossing guard in Eau Claire for 15 years, and she said drivers near Longfellow Elementary are going too fast for comfort.

“Sometimes it takes five to 10 minutes to get across the street because the traffic is so heavy,” Finch told News 18. “There’s supposed to be a 15 (mph) speed limit through the school zone.”

Eau Claire police say speeding in a school zone could cost you.

“If you were to be exceeding the speed limit in a school zone, the minimum or maximum fine, depending on the speed that you were traveling could, potentially, be doubled because of the violation in the school zone,” said Bridget Coit, with Eau Claire police.

Sometimes a combination of inattentive driving and pedestrian traffic cause unsafe situations.

“You can’t trust how the kids are gonna be,” Finch said. “They might dart out, and you just gotta be careful because they go through it the speed they’re going through, and they hit that child, it’s gonna be a disaster.”

“If you’re a walking pedestrian, even though you do have the right-of-way at a crosswalk, just really making sure you’re taking your time, watching and looking, and that the motorists who are approaching are aware of you, aware of you wanting to cross and are stopping for you,” Coit added.

In the end, safety is the top priority for both Finch and officers.

“Just because the child may have already crossed the road, if the crossing guard hasn’t put down their sign, or they’re not out of the roadway, it’s not okay to cross. You need to wait for them and their signal,” Coit said.

“Just slow down, it only takes two seconds to go through the intersection,” Finch said. “Just slow down so that everybody is safe out here.”

Coit also told News 18 she can’t recall any recent incidents between drivers and pedestrians in a school zone, but wants people to be diligent to keep our children safe.

Samantha Wensel

Samantha Wensel

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