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Slow down for Oklahoma's school zones

An Oklahoma City school crossing guard made a point, year after year, of calling in to pass along this reminder.
By Don Gammill Modified: August 9, 2010 at 6:51 am •  Published: August 9, 2010

A new school year is beginning and it's time to adjust your driving habits when approaching, going through and exiting a school zone.

It's also time for me to keep a promise I made years ago to a longtime school crossing guard.

Lower speeds and more traffic congestion are two certainties around schools. It's for the safety of the children as well as the adults.

Whether you live in a big city or a small community, school zones require extra attention.

A traffic officer once told me that drivers should slow down as soon as they see a school zone sign ahead, not as they pass it.

The zone is enforced from sign to sign — if you wait until you get to the first one to slow down, you won't make it.

The officer also said increasing your speed should not take place until after you pass the last sign. That's when you officially leave the zone.

Know your route; know the location of the school zones. And obey them. The results of not doing so can be very expensive ... and dangerous.

Now, the promise.

I had been writing this column less than a month when I got a call from "John."

"Every year when school starts, I see the same thing, and I have to tell 'em to 'slow down,'" he told me.

"People hurry through (school crossings), don't pay attention. ... I just hope and pray somebody don't get hurt."

John told me about several close calls he had witnessed or experienced in more than 20 years on the job near an Oklahoma City elementary school.

"Too many" close calls, he said.

His voice was somewhat shaky, but his recollection was clear and crisp. He described incidents in such detail that I easily could visualize a vehicle speeding past, hear the sound of the engine, or the squeals of the children.

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