Caution Urged As Students Cross Streets

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It is the start of a new school year and, with that, children are crossing the streets on their way to and from school and lunch, many times improperly.

Payson Police Chief Don Engler said if an officer sees students crossing illegally, they would stop them and contact their parents.

Every day, Payson High School students cross at the Highway 260 and 87 intersections, usually avoiding the north side crosswalk and preferring the direct route through traffic.

It is important students always use crosswalks and sidewalks, Engler said.

According to the National Safety Council, each year one-third of the 90,000 pedestrians killed or injured are school-aged children.

Last year, at South Colcord Road and West Wade Lane, a student was struck by a car while riding a bicycle, Engler said. The student was not seriously injured, but it is a reminder that accidents happen.

In August, a police car hit a Phoenix student while he crossed the street near his high school.

Engler urges students to wear helmets while on their bikes, even though Arizona law does not require it.

He also suggests walking a bike through intersections and obeying all traffic signals. Drivers need to pay extra attention in the morning and afternoon hours when students are out, and follow school zone laws and speed limits.

The maximum speed through a posted school zone is 15 mph.

Rim Country Middle School Principal Gary Witherspoon said the school is in the process of expanding and improving the crosswalks and parent drop-off area.

Witherspoon said the school has had few incidents with students crossing improperly and speeding drivers. Although the school does not have crossing guards, it has crosswalks and flashing lights.

Witherspoon said he and staff act as crossing guards, helping students across the streets.

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