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CHP cracks down on school zone speeding near Santa Ynez High School

With a new school year underway, California Highway Patrol of Buellton is looking to keep school zones on local drivers’ minds.

CHP officers set up a school zone enforcement operation at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School during rush hour Wednesday morning. The officers issued 29 citations, including some to Santa Ynez students. The officers’ focus was on drivers who were speeding or not properly yielding right of way to pedestrians or other cars.

“We do like to get out–especially at the beginning of the school year–to put that reminder out first thing to keep the children safe, keep the motorists safe,” CHP Officer Rick Larson said.

The area near campus–including Highway 246 and North Refugio Road, is highly trafficked and can be dangerous. A Santa Ynez High School student was struck by a car and killed in 2015 while trying to cross the street near the campus. Larson stresses the importance of drivers being aware when they are in school zones.

“Pay attention to those school zone times,” Larson said. “And when school is in session and you do have pedestrians in the area, to make sure you are slowing down to those school zone speeds.”

Kayla Metheany lives nearby and graduated from Santa Ynez High School. She says the area usually gets heavy traffic from not only students driving to school, but also from people passing through.

“I think we get a lot of out-of-towners who come up here for Solvang and wine tasting and stuff,” Metheany said. “And we also have people that come up from the casino. And they might not know this is a high school and that there’s kids crossing the street.”

CHP Sgt. Eric Zivic was supervising the school zone enforcement operation at Santa Ynez Wednesday morning. He said unlike a recent operation near Cabrillo High School in Lompoc, there were no “plain clothes” officers crossing the street to see what drivers would do. Zivic said the officers Wednesday were in patrol cars and that the response from the high school was positive.

“We had teachers come out, thank us for slowing cars down,” Zivic said. “It’s a good opportunity for us to get out and to educate the public and to make the area safer.”

Metheany says her perspective about school zone enforcements has changed now that she is a parent.

“When I was in high school I didn’t really like the CHP or getting tickets. But now that I’m a mom I love that they’re enforcing the protection of the kids at the high school.”

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