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Safety alert: School zones fill up with cars and students with more attending classes in-person

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - With more students out of their Zoom classes from home and back to campuses, drivers are seeing more bus, pedestrian, and bike traffic around schools.

It has caught some drivers off guard in areas where school bus routes are located and children, their parents and inattentive drivers are coming together.

The Santa Barbara Police Department has positioned officers in areas where traffic accidents and vehicle counts are the highest. 

Targeted areas include Cliff Drive on the Mesa where three elementary schools are located along with Santa Barbara City College.

It's also a street known for vehicles that exceed the speed limit in part because of its sloping hill.

Santa Barbara Police Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale says, "pay attention to speed limits look for  pedestrians and especially younger  students that are attempting to go and come from class.  It is also really important to pay attention to school buses that are picking up and dropping off students in the area."

One driver agreed it is  a risky area and tries to pay attention.

Monica Barton said, "I generally feel like I go with the flow when I am on Cliff Drive."
About two years ago, she was stopped.   "It was a speeding ticket.  I guess I was going ten to 15 miles an hour over the limit."

One of the issues with Cliff Drive is that it has a 40 mile an hour speed limit towards the Las Positas roundabout  and the rest of the Mesa is 35 miles an hour.  In school zones it's 25 mile per hour.  Police say drivers need to be especially aware of areas where speed limits are changing.

Ragsdale said, "City College is in this area,  we have three elementary schools, this is one of the more longer stretches of roadway that are in the City of Santa Barbara.   Sometimes drivers get complacent and they don't pay attention to the changing in speed limits." 

Drivers may often be to blame, but jay walking pedestrians are also at fault here.

"Make sure you use  a crosswalk  make sure that you stay on the sidewalks and designated areas for your safety and the safety of everybody else in the community," said Ragsdale.

One resident said, she sees it when the campuses are active saying, "definitely. With all the City College kids around definitely yeah," said Chandra Rattansey .
It's also an after hours problem.

Rattansey said, "they are driving pretty fast especially 2 o'clock in the morning."  She described it like a race track.

The National Transportation Safety Board says:

  • Yellow flashing lights on a school bus mean slow down — don’t speed up — because the bus is preparing to stop. There are likely students waiting to get on the bus or parents waiting nearby to pick up children. 
  • Red flashing lights mean stop — and wait at least 20 feet behind the bus — because children are getting on or off the school bus. Stay stopped until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving.
  • Even when lights aren’t flashing, watch for children, particularly in the morning or mid-afternoon, around school arrival and dismissal times. Be alert as you back out of a driveway, or drive through a neighborhood, school zone or bus stop.

Children should arrive at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Parents are advised to teach them to play it SAFE:

  • Stay five steps away from the curb.
  • Always wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the bus driver signals for you to board.
  • Face forward after finding a seat on the bus.
  • Exit the bus after it stops and look left-right-left for cars before crossing a street.

Article Topic Follows: Safety
Santa Barbara
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about John, click here.


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