August 10, 2017
By: B rian Hughes
Crestview, FL — Distracted driving causes scores of accidents throughout our community, whether by pedestrians not paying attention to traffic while messing with their cellphones, or drivers doing the same thing.
Twice a day, starting as early as 6:30 in some locations, school crossing zones are in effect as the new school year gets underway, and we’re protecting the students who use them.
“Glancing at a text, dialing a number, putting on makeup, choosing a new song on your phone’s playlist, or any number of other activities that cause your eyes to leave the road can mean those few seconds that are all it takes for a tragedy to occur,” Crestview Police Chief Tony Taylor said.
“Folks, we take the safety of our kids seriously. Most of us are parents and want drivers to treat every school zone as seriously as we do,” Chief Taylor continued. “When that yellow light’s flashing, you’d better slow down” to the 20 or 25 mph speed indicated on the accompanying signage.
Community Services Officers Wanda Hulion and Sam Kimmons oversee the city’s school zone traffic enforcement and said during opening week, motorists have been pretty careful. However, distracted drivers are still an issue, even in areas as critical as a school zone.
“Folks are behaving pretty good,” Officer Hulion said. “It’s just if, when we’re out there directing traffic, they’d put their phones down so they can see us when we’re waving them on.”
“That’s how most people miss a school zone,” Officer Corey Newcomb said. “It’s because they’re texting or playing with their phones.”
“Just quit looking at those phones!” Hulion added. Receiving or sending texts while driving is already against the law in Florida.
Will Crestview Police officers be extra vigilant about speeding motorists and distracted drivers in our active school zones? “Oh absolutely!” said Patrol Sgt. Josh Grace. And be forewarned: the fines for speeding in a school zone are double the normal fine, and our officers won’t hesitate to write tickets if that’s what it takes to slow drivers down.
“We’d rather hit a speeder’s wallet than let them hit a child,” Chief Taylor said.
0-9 MPH over limit: $153
10-14 MPH over limit: $303
15-19 MPH over limit: $403
20-29 MPH over limit: $453
30 MPH or more over limit: $603 minimum with mandatory court appearance
Failure to stop for school bus: $268
Passing a school bus on the exit/enter side: $268 minimum and mandatory court appearance
(Source: Okaloosa County Clerk of Courts)