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‘Anticipate distractions’: EPISD police chief offers school zone safety tips

EL PASO, Texas -- Borderland students are almost one month into the school year packing drop off zones and cross walks. As students readjust to in-person learning, parents also need to readjust to school zone safety.

The Texas Department of Transportation said despite low traffic levels in 2020, there were still hundreds of crashes at school zones throughout the state and all of these crashes were preventable.

The chief of the El Paso Independent School District's police department, Manuel Chavira, told ABC-7 that so far things have run smoothly for the department.

Chavira said for the most part EPISD parents have been compliant and respectful on the roads.

"We tell everybody, every child that's out crossing the crosswalk, pretend as if they were your own," Chavira said.

But as traffic has picked back up he says the district's more than 40 officers are working to patrol all the schools and partnering with other local law enforcement agencies to make sure parents are obeying the law.

“We have a staggered bell schedule with the high school, middle school, and elementary school so we can take the officers that we have and keep them mobile and hit the peak drop off times at middle schools, then elementary schools, then high schools,” he said.

Chavira says fines are doubled in school zones, which can range into the hundreds of dollars. He said the biggest tips are to be patient, and "anticipate heavy congestion congestion." "(Don't) be distracted and anticipate distractions."

To help keep kids safe, here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Slow down and obey the speed limits. Be aware of any traffic patterns around the schools. 
  • Put away your cell phones and stay alert.
  • Keep a close eye for kids especially if they're gathered by a bus stop. 
  • If a school bus stops in front of you make sure you come to a full stop once the flashing red lights on a school bus turn on.

If your child is walking to school, here are a few tips for them:

  • Always use sidewalks. If there’s not a sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic.
  • Look both ways before crossing.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing.
  • Try to stay off your phone while walking to be undistracted

Region 19 and TxDot also are working to remind parents about school zone safety.

Brianna Chavez

Brianna Chavez is an ABC-7 reporter/producer.


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