In light of the recent tragedy that occurred at Tuolumne school in Modesto where a child was killed in a traffic collision, our department wishes to take this opportunity to remind our community how important traffic safety is, especially in our school zones. Traffic enforcement is one of Ceres Police Department's top enforcement priorities. To date, the two officers assigned to the Ceres Police Traffic Unit have spent 139 days patrolling our 24 schools as part of their education, prevention, and enforcement efforts. Every school has specific traffic issues that our officers are aware of and work hard to address. To ensure each school site receives attention, the officers use a rotating list so a different school is visited each day.
The Ceres Traffic Unit focuses more on dangerous moving violations that are happening around the schools rather than dealing with parking violations in the parking lots, which is handled by other personnel specifically assigned to parking enforcement. The following are common violations committed by pedestrians and motorists in school zones and areas near our schools:
• Speeding in a school zone, the speed limit is 25 MPH.
• Failing to obey posted signs, for example: "Right Turn Only," "No U-Turns," "No Parking."
• Walking in the roadway and failing to yield to oncoming vehicles. While pedestrians do have the right-of-walk in marked and unmarked crosswalks, they need to be cautious when stepping into the roadway.
• Failing to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. Most intersections have crosswalks for pedestrians to cross the street whether there are lines painted on the street or not. Drivers should always watch for pedestrians when approaching corners and allow them to safely cross the street before continuing forward.
• Stopping in the roadway and impeding traffic to drop children off rather than pulling over so children can safely exit the vehicle.
• Parking is always an issue before and after school. Parking in red zones is strictly prohibited, whether there is a "No Parking" sign accompanying the red curb or not.
• Students not wearing helmets while riding bicycles, skateboards, rollerblades and scooters. Everyone under the age of 18 is required to wear a helmet while doing these activities by state law.
• Wearing earphones or earbuds in both ears while driving a car or riding a bicycle.
• Leaving children unattended in the vehicle.
• Not stopping for school buses when they have flashing lights and a stop sign erected.
• Not using a hands-free device to talk on the phone while driving a vehicle. Sending or receiving text-based messages is also not permitted.
Please remember to adhere to all traffic laws, especially around our schools - the safety of our children depends on it. Help us prevent pedestrian and motor vehicle collisions by leaving early enough so you are not rushed and can reach your destination safely. Parents are encouraged to be part of the solution by volunteering at their child's school. Stop by and speak to the school administration to see how you can help make the schools safer. We recommend dressing children in bright colors so they are visible and teach them to stay on sidewalks and follow the rules of the road. If you are interested in volunteering at a Safe Route School, please contact Maria Lourdes Perez at the Center for Human Services, Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children by calling (209) 450-5773 or visiting the website: http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/. If you would like to discuss specific traffic issues around schools, you can contact Officer Jason Coley by calling (209) 538-5678 or emailing him: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Ceres Police Traffic Unit has also recently joined Facebook and are regularly posting about traffic safety, including which schools are being patrolled. Like their page!