Herald-Whig

Safety snapshot reviews school traffic data

Cars pass a school zone sign on Payson Road near Lincoln Douglas School on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. The Adams County Sheriff's Office has received complaints about cars speeding in the Lincoln Douglas school zone. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 16, 2019 10:20 am Updated: Jan. 16, 2019 10:28 am

MONTICELLO, Mo. -- Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish remembers when deputies started seeing improvements to traffic around Highland High and Elementary schools.

Work in 2008 to slow down drivers on Mo. 6 near the schools improved safety.

"That had been a pretty dangerous area that was not marked with any type of speed limit sign, and we had a couple crashes there as people were pulling into school," Parrish said. "It was dangerous until a group of people with the school and some folks who had kids at the school actually got some stuff moving through the state government. They got two speed limit signs there that lowered the speed limit during high-traffic times to 45 miles per hour."

He thinks having the school resource officer having a marked car at the school helps at times and assigning an additional deputy by the school to slow traffic.

Lewis County was listed as the 20th safest county in Missouri as part of the School Safety Snapshot, completed by traffic analytics firm Zendrive, which through smartphones developed grades based on aggressive acceleration, hard braking, phone use and speeding. The data were taken from about a quarter-mile from the schools.

Lewis County received a grade of A-, which tied with Scotland County as the highest in the region.

As a state, Missouri received a grade of D, with Shelby County receiving the lowest grade as an F, which appears to be from South Shelby High and Middle schools being located along U.S. 36. The county was 111th out of 114 counties.

Illinois received a grade of an F, with Adams County getting the grade of a C- or 68th out of 102 counties. Hancock County had a B+, the 14th safest.

Lt. Jeff Nevin of the Quincy Police Department said the biggest influx of unsafe driving in school zones usually comes at the start of the school year.

"People forget school is starting, so they don't adjust their driving or the speed," he said. "Every August and beginning of September, I can count people who live on Jackson (near Quincy Notre Dame High School) to call that drivers are just flying down the road. So we'll put somebody out there for a week or two on a regular basis and monitor as you can after that."

There were some growing pains this school year with Illes and Rooney Elementary schools opening. The department used a speed detail grant to have officers in the area at the start of the school year.

"People weren't used to it, so we wanted it watched a little bit more often and for people to see us out there reminding them there's a school here," Nevin said. "When the other ones open next year, we'll do the same thing."

With five schools on Maine Street, the department also regularly has officers check for speeders in the school zones.

"Between 30th and 33rd, you wouldn't think there would be that much room to get up and go, but some people do it," he said.

Distracted driving continues to be a concern for law enforcement, especially in school zones.

Adams County Sheriff Brian VonderHaar said drivers need to remember to put their cellphones down while they're driving.

"Just assume that kids are present and follow the posted speed limits," VonderHaar said. "Understand if you get a speeding ticket in a school zone the fine is extremely healthy."

VonderHaar said Lincoln-Douglas Elementary School on Payson Road in Quincy is one school about which the department regularly receives complaints.

"In general we don't get a lot of complaints in the county, but Payson Road is probably one of our worst areas," he said.