Last year when school started, Titusville police spent months trying to get drivers to slow down in school zones.
They asked drivers on social media, handed out warnings, and finally switched to writing costly tickets. None of it worked. So News 6 spotlighted the problem and finally helped get results.
This year, the problem is back.
Drivers, especially in front of Andrew Jackson Middle School, are doing double the speed limit and more during school zone hours, according to Lt. T.J. Wright, supervisor over the Titusville Police Department’s Traffic Unit and School Resource Officers.
Besides Jackson Middle, there are two elementary schools and one day care on the same stretch of Knox McRae Drive.
During drop-off in the morning and pick-up hours in the afternoon while yellow warning lights are flashing, the speed limit is 15 mph.
“And the reason why it’s so slow is some kids pay attention but these little ones going to elementary may not be paying attention, they may dart out in the road and we need drivers paying attention to slowing down,” said Wright. “We’re worried that the drivers aren’t hearing the message to slow down.”
So News 6 was back on Know McRae Drive to spotlight the problem once again.
Police pulled over 15 cars for speeding in one hour last week.
Most drivers got tickets. Wright said all patrol officers have now been authorized to write tickets for school zone speeders.
“We’re at that point now where the message hasn’t been clear enough or delivered and that’s why the Titusville Police Department is transitioning to zero-tolerance,” Wright said. “It’s frustrating, especially when you see cars doing double the posted speed limit through the speed zone.”
Wright said once again this year drivers haven’t gotten the message after the PD asked nicely.
“We started with social media, went to news releases, then high-visibility in school zones,” Wright said. “Basically education and awareness for five straight weeks.”
But Titusville police are also reinforcing good choices in school zones – like slow driving and seatbelt wearing.
The Jackson Middle School Resource Officer regularly hands out free 7-Eleven Slurpee coupons to reward safe driving.
“Not only are we out here enforcing slowing down but we’re also rewarding people for doing the right thing as well,” Wright said. “I think it gets people talking, especially we’re rewarding people out here doing the right thing.”
Wright said all patrol officers are in plain sight and there is never profiling.
“Sometimes we’ll just come out here and park our cars and just wave at the traffic and get them to wave at us, we’re trying to build a relationship there,” Wright said. “And the numbers don’t lie. If the vehicle is speeding through the area, the officers are going to verify it based on their training, verify it with radar, and conduct a traffic stop.”
Wright said the PD posts on its Facebook page where patrol officers will be stationed so drivers are not taken by surprise.
Every school zone in Titusville is staffed by officers every morning and every afternoon.
A school-zone speeding citation puts three points on your license. Driving 20+ mph over the speed limit – so that’s just 35 mph in a school zone during school hours – carries at $459 fine.