CLARKSVILLE, IN (August 6, 2021) – August is here and that means the summer fun has come to an end for southern Indiana students. Now its time to head back to school, and that means more traffic in local school zones. With the increase in traffic, you can also expect an increase in police presence.
“Whenever we start the day, we try to make sure we are a presence on the main roads that have schools.”
Officer Joel Sellers with the Clarksville Police Department was kind enough to take us along for a ride to see how officers are working to keep local kids safe as they go to and from school. Once we got on the road, it didn’t take long for us to witness our first speeding violation. A driver was going 44mph in a 20mph zone, so Officer Sellers hit the lights and made the stop. This driver’s excuse was one Officer Sellers is all too familiar with.
(Officer Sellers) “You’re going 44 miles an hour”.
(Driver) “I’m sorry, I’m in a hurry. Sorry”.
(Officer Sellers) “Well your in a school zone, it is 20 miles per hour, its no longer 30, so you’re going 24 miles per hour over the speed limit, okay. There are all these kids that are crossing, you know, trying to get to school, walking, you got to slow down okay.”
Officer Sellers says most officers don’t even want to write tickets. What they really want is for drivers to slow down, especially in school zones.
“It’s understandable. You know we get in tight spots all the time, we’re running late for work every now and then, we’ve got things we’ve got to do, ah life is busy. We understand that, but, we need to put it into perspective uh the dangers that these kids might be put in if we’re running late, driving recklessly, or just not following the rules of the road.”
Since the driver had no record of speeding, Officer Sellers decided to let her off with a warning to slow down, and sent her on her way. Hopefully with an understanding that she needs to take school zones more seriously.
“Typically if you tell them it’s a school zone they seem a little more upset with themselves,” said Officer Sellers. “Now whether that sticks or not I’m not entirely sure, but usually people are a little more upset with themselves if they are in a school zone speeding. The lights and signs are not hard to see. It’s pretty obvious that it is a school zone and you are supposed to slow down.”
As for Officer Sellers, it was back to work, and it didn’t take long for us to catch another driver going more than double the posted school zone speed limit.
“Kids are leaving those apartments and going to school, and going 47 miles an hour, I mean its excessive okay. So we’re not trying to be jerks or anything like that, but we do need to make sure people are aware of the dangers of driving that fast.”
Unlike the previous driver who did not have a record, this driver received a written warning from another officer, just a few months ago. So he is going to learn his lesson the hard way, with a speeding ticket.
“Again, that first girl, she just needed a warning. But the second guy, he already had his warning. He needed something a little more severe,” said Officer Sellers. “They were driving almost the same speed, but you can only warn someone so many times before you should take action.”
Officer Sellers says he wants drivers to understand that with school back in session, he and his fellow officers will be watching, not only for drivers speeding in school zones, but also for those who fail to stop for school buses. Breaking those laws can get you more than just a ticket, you can actually be charged with a crime.
“It’s a little bit amplified in a school zone. If you cross a school bus with its arm extended signaling for you to stop and you don’t, that’s actually a misdemeanor. So we don’t want anyone to be tied up with that. Every now and then we have someone who may not understand the rules, or think that they’re in too big of a hurry, or think that they’ve got around the bus in time, when in fact they haven’t. It is just a dangerous situation for kids. We’re trying to make sure no kids are put in a bad spot.”
So the next time you are driving in a local school zone, remember this school day lesson from Officer Sellers. He will be watching and doing whatever it takes to keep Clarksville kids safe.