Police Crackdown On Distracted Drivers In School Zones

PEA RIDGE (KFSM)-- The Pea Ridge Police Department is working to keep students safe with a new campaign to make sure drivers keep their hands on the wheel and off their phones.

Pea Ridge Officer Mike Lira said the Pea Ridge High School's Resource Officer, Sergeant Langham, noticed multiple drivers who were more focused on their phones than the road and their surroundings.

So, he started a campaign to put signs all over the school zone reminding drivers that it is illegal to be on your phone in that area.

This law is nothing new and Lira said it has been around since about 2015.

The penalty is a ticket that could cost hundreds of dollars.

“We all know that if we get focused on our phones, we’re looking for directions or we’re looking for a contact in our phone or just talking on the phone we’re not one hundred percent focused on the streets and with that being said, we have children crossing the street and we see it everyday where we see people getting close to hitting somebody or they are hitting people," Lira said.

He said the two times they see the most congestion is in the morning when people drop off their kids or around 3:20 p.m. when students are trying to get home.

“At that time of day, you’ll see so many cars, so many people backed up stopped, it can take you, you know Pea Ridge is a relatively small town, it can take you anywhere between five to ten minutes just to go from one school to the next," said Pea Ridge High School Principal Charley Clark. "So it’s very important people understand with all the congestion there is really know place for us to be on our electronic devices.”

Students said most days they see a lot of cars clogging up intersections and drivers pulling out their phones.

They are happy to see the police department take extra steps to make sure they make it home safe every day.

“It’s nice that they have paid attention and they’ve realized there is something going on because we are getting bigger and we are a small town," said high school senior Nakoa Manues. "It’s getting even worse and we need more people paying attention to that because it does get pretty crazy. Especially after school.”

Langham said he has seen a decrease in the amount of distracted drivers he sees in school zones since he put the signs up about a month ago.

He still said he will see one to two drivers looking at their phones every day.

Langham said they recently had an incident where a student trying to use a crosswalk was almost hit by a driver who simply was not paying attention.

He plans to keep the campaign going indefinitely as long as he continues to see results.