THP Emphasizes School Safety

Sunday, March 11, 2007 | 07:00pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn., — Be alert! Slow down! Be safe in the school zone!  That’s the message to drivers and students from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP).   The reminder comes ahead of Sunday’s change to Daylight Savings Time.  On Monday, 6:30 a.m. will provide much less light than motorists and pedestrians have grown accustomed to over the past few weeks.  THP encourages everyone to be extra cautious in making their trips to school and work.

Last August, the THP launched a massive enforcement effort aimed at keeping children safe as they travel to and from school.  In August, hundreds of State Troopers began a new school year of watching school zones and buses, both from the air and on the ground, in an effort to crack down on motorists who disregard laws designed to protect children.   Since August 11th, THP has written more than 1,500 school zone moving violations and more than 3,500 non-moving violations.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol dedicated approximately 850 work hours to school transport safety in August.   THP has continued stepped-up efforts to protect children through enforcement throughout the school year.  Their efforts are targeted both in school zones, and anywhere else children are likely to be.

“The THP’s school zone enforcement effort initiated last August is the first of its kind for this agency,” said Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell.  “The goal is to protect Tennessee children from drivers who may be distracted, impatient or careless.  That’s why you’ll see more State Troopers around school buses, at bus stops and in school zones, writing tickets to drivers who break the law.”

“A school zone isn’t just the 15-mile per hour area around a school.  It’s anywhere our children travel,” stated Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Mike Walker.  “In Tennessee, it’s against the law to pass a school bus with its red lights flashing–no exception.  If you do it and get caught, you will get a ticket.  If you do it and kill or severely injure a child, you will have to live with that for the rest of your life.”

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports approximately 26 students were killed and another 9,000 were injured in incidents involving school buses in 2005.  Most of the deaths and injuries occurred as the children were entering or exiting a bus. Close to 600 children are killed annually and many more injured going to and from school in a vehicle other than a school bus.

The Tennessee Department of Safety ( is responsible for ensuring the safety and general welfare of the traveling public.  The department’s general areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education and motorist services including the issuance of driver licenses.  The department and its highly trained staff of Troopers are responsible for safety on more than 15,000 miles of state and federal highways.

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