Schools, police focus on student and driver safety in school zones

Safety is top of mind as Knox Co. students return to class. Coming in January, a new law will make it illegal to pick up your cell phone while in a school zone

KNOXVILLE - With the start of another school year comes assignments, new classes and a focus on safety for all students in Knox County Schools.

"That's first and foremost in order to have the teaching and learning. We want our students and also our employees to feel safe on the job," said Knox County School Superintendent Bob Thomas. 

Knoxville police will be increasing patrols and giving out citations to anyone who decides to speed or drive recklessly through a school zone. 

"They haven't changed," said KPD Lt. Brian Evans. "It seems like every year we write the same number of tickets."

Another concern is distracted driving. 

"A basic car, driver can travel the length of a football field in the time that it takes to look at a text, read a text," Evans said.

Bus drivers with Knox County Schools are also watching for distracted driving.

"We've got cameras on our buses this year and radio systems that will help us to be more effective with our transportation," Thomas said. 

A new law starting Jan. 1 will make it illegal for anyone in a school zone to talk on the phone with the device in hand.

"This is a great first step in trying to reduce the number of crashes to those vulnerable people that are out there using the roadways, the kids in the school zones and pedestrians," Evans said. 

MORE: Handheld phone calls in active TN school zones illegal Jan. 1

Evans hopes this enhanced law will put a dent in distracted driving around schools.

"Taking your eyes off the road for just those few seconds can be a matter of life or death for somebody, literally," Evans said. 

Drivers under 18 cannot use a cellphone in a school zone even if they have a hands-free device under the new law. 

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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