New signs remind Wichita drivers to slow down for students going back to school

WICHITA, Kan. The Wichita Police Department and AAA (Triple-A) want to make sure drivers know school zones across the city will be packed Wednesday morning and evening with young students going back to school.

AAA is working with Wichita Public Schools (USD 259) to put up signs at Wichita elementary schools, reminding drivers to slow down as children make their way to and from school.

The signs say, "School's open. Drive carefully."

Among areas where drivers are especially encouraged to be cautious is near Hyde Elementary School, which sits on a busy stretch of Oliver, in the 200 block.

AAA says the the safety measure its taken with Wichita Public Schools is an annual effort.

"We actually do this every year around back-to-school time to make drivers aware that kids are going to be back on the roads," says Shawn Steward with AAA Kansas. "Be extra careful. Be extra vigilant of those kids."

Wichita police are also pushing this message.

"You've got kids all over the place around schools," Wichita Police Sgt. Steve Yarberry says. "They're running out in front of traffic."

Yarberry advises drivers to pay extra attention at crosswalks. He says even crosswalks with flashing lights don't seem to deter careless drivers.

"You'll see the lights start flashing and people speed up to try to beat it because they don't want to sit there for the red," Yarberry says.

He says these drivers put children in danger, as do drivers who don't stop for buses. Kansas law says you must stop if the stop arm is out and lights are flashing.

"You have to stop right there. You can't go around the school bus, and you can't pass it going in the opposite direction," Yarberry says.

Child safety advocates say you can't trust the students to keep themselves safe around traffic. It's up to drivers on the road.

"Kids, little kids, they will just dart right out, They don't think about cars coming down the street," Yarberry says. "And the last thing we want is for a kid to get hit. I mean,, that would be tragic."

If you're a parent with children outside of the Wichita school district, AAA Kansas says you can contact them and they'll arrange to have the "reminder-to-slow-down" signs brought to your children's school."