School's in, so drivers should use more care

MILAN School is in. And that means school zone limits take effect and youngsters will be waiting for buses by city and rural roads. Milan Police Chief Jim Ward has been monitoring the area near Berlin-Milan schools every day for student arrivals and dismissals since he became chief in 1981.
Cary Ashby
Jul 25, 2010

MILAN School is in. And that means school zone limits take effect and youngsters will be waiting for buses by city and rural roads.

Milan Police Chief Jim Ward has been monitoring the area near Berlin-Milan schools every day for student arrivals and dismissals since he became chief in 1981.

"There's somebody there every day unless something's happening," Ward said. "I'll be there on and off for recess (also)."

The crossing guard has told Ward motorists don't slow down as much or yield as well if an officer isn't there. The chief points out he sits in his cruiser in the middle of the pedestrian crossing, which is marked with a sign sitting atop four-foot tall traffic cones.

"It's not like we're hiding," Ward said.

The school speed limit is 20 mph, while the surrounding area is 35.

Erie County sheriff's deputies will be aggressively investigating complaints about motorists not stopping for buses near EHOVE and Edison High School.

"We work the school zone very regularly," Capt. Paul Sigsworth said.

"There is mandatory enforcement for refusing to stop for school buses. We don't give a break to motorists who don't stop."

Sigsworth believes many courts require violators to appear in court instead of simply paying a fine.

In Huron County, the charge of failure to yield for a stopped school bus brings a mandatory appearance in Norwalk Municipal Court. The driver could face up to a $250 fine and/or up to 30 days in jail.

Sigsworth encourages drivers to allow extra time because school is restarting. He stressed the importance of paying attention to students who are waiting on the sides of roads, especially those in the rural areas where the speed limit is 55.

"We'll have children waiting in less than ideal lighting conditions," he added.

Ward realizes "it takes a week for people to get back into school mode."

At the Berlin-Milan school zone, "we have the crosswalk marked differently to get your attention," the police chief said. "It has reflector stripes on it to jump put and get your attention."

Sigsworth wants to avoid school traffic-related tragedies.

"We can't afford to have a child injured because someone was in way too much of a hurry to stop for a school bus," he said. "With students going to and from school, we want them to get there safely."

School in Norwalk begins Tuesday.