Drivers beware. Classes start tomorrow for students in Calcasieu, and that means breaking the three month habit of ignoring school zones.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office already started its annual school zone awareness program, and they'll be out in full force Monday.
"Our goal is to make people recognize the school zones, to respect them, and to ensure the safety of our children," said Commander James McGee with the Enforcement Division.
Commander James McGee says writing tickets is a tool deputies use, but it's not their goal.
"The first thing is we don't want a tragic accident involving a child," said Commander McGee. "Second, is we don't want to write a bunch of speeding tickets."
Drivers are urged to pay attention to the times posted on the school zones signs and strictly abide by them.
"It's 9 AM, and it's up until 9 AM that somebody can be cited for speeding in a school zone," said Commander McGee. "People have to understand that children do get to school late. There are still some things going on at some schools up until 9 o'clock, it's not just until the bell rings. There are some things going on. That's why the school zones are until 9 o'clock and until 4 o'clock PM."
McGee says the Sheriff's Office deals with several issues inside the schools zones, including traffic problems.
"We work really close with the school board, really close with our local principals," said Commander McGee. "There are some schools that are on main roads, that we work with the principals. We deploy extra deputies to these school zones in the first week or two of school to help with the traffic control and to help getting our motorists back in the habit of respecting our school zones."
While the school zones are very important for drivers to remember, they can't forget about the crossing guards. McGee says the Sheriff's Office has made several changes to the crossing guard program this summer.
"We've taken a lot of steps this past summer," said Commander McGee. "We train our crossing guards very well. We did some assessments of some of the areas. We've added some personnel. We've done some revamping with the crossing guard program to ensure the safety of our crossing guards."
While some motorists may take them for granted, McGee says the Sheriff's Office really appreciates what the crossing guards do for the children of Calcasieu Parish.
"We have some very dedicated, some very good crossing guards," said Commander McGee. "Crossing guards, they don't just cross. They are directing traffic, and they do a really good job."
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's OIffice spent time this past week in school zones across the area warning drivers about the upcoming school year. Commander McGee says drivers were receptive and happy to see them for the children's sake.