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Classes back in session, warning to stay aware when driving in school zones

As students head back to the classroom, schools and communities around them are going to be busier than they’ve been since the start of the pandemic.

The Indio and Palm Springs Police Departments are reminding drivers to slow down. IPD tweeted out saying, "Remember to slow down, leave early, obey all signs and signals."

PSPD also tweeted saying, "Slow down and enjoy the view….School Zone speed enforcement is in full effect. Kids are back to school. Let’s make it as safe as possible by observing speed limits and driving without distractions."

"There are going to be a lot more parents, students, and staff out than residents have seen in more than a year,” Palm Springs Police Dept. Sgt. Arnold Galvan said. “Please drive carefully in school zones, especially during pick-up and drop-off times.”

Both IPD and PSPD said their officers will be making sure drivers are following school zone speed limits.

“I teach my son every day just to always pay attention when he's walking to school," said a father of a student in the valley. "Especially like the hybrid cars are a lot silent, or not as loud. So imagine a hybrid or a Prius, you know, speeding and you have a kid who's not paying attention who's either looking down on his phone.”

Doug Shupe is a spokesperson for the Automobile Club of Southern California. He warns drivers can cause fatalities by simply glancing at their phones.

"We want to remind people that if you're driving while you are looking at that smartphone to send an email or a text message, GPS or even look up music, it is like you are driving while impaired," said Shupe. "So we're reminding everybody to put down those phones and for passengers to speak up. Because that action of calling out someone's dangerous driving habit could save a life."

With many students returning to classes for the first time since the pandemic, AAA said it wants to remind drivers, parents, and students to stay safe and alert in school zones.

“The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous for children who are heading home from school. In fact, the most child fatalities happen between the afternoon hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.," said Shupe. "When kids are heading home from school, and they're mixing with drivers who are commuting home from work.”

A recent AAA survey done in several states, including California, asked how people would respond if they were a passenger in a vehicle and their driver was texting. Here are the findings:

  • 64% would ask driver to stop using phone                         
  • 78% would ask driver to put on a seatbelt                           
  • 85% would ask impaired driver to allow them to drive          

The survey shows people were less likely to ask the driver to stop using their phone than they were to ask the driver to put on their seatbelt or hand over the keys if the driver was intoxicated

AAA said lives can be saved when drivers slow down, eliminate distractions, and stay alert in school zones.

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Marian Bouchot

Marian Bouchot is the weekend morning anchor and a reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. Learn more about Marian here.


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