NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — With school back in session, school zones are back in effect.
Metro Police plan to have special patrols stationed near schools this week. Certain officers will look for people speeding, not paying attention, or driving dangerously. Other officers will go out of their way to pass through school zones during their shifts. The additional presence is meant to prevent bad behavior behind the wheel.
"I've seen horrible crashes and they're preventable," said Metro Police Sgt. Mark Denton. "99 percent of the time they're preventable if we just slow down and think about what we're doing."
In Nashville, public school zones are in effect from 7:15 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. at elementary schools and from 8:15 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. for middle schools every morning. They start as early as 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon.
Speed limits are just 15 mph in active school zones.
"At the end of the day, we have to take care of these kids. Kids shouldn’t have to protect themselves, just keep that in mind when you're going through these school zones," Sgt. Denton said.
He notes that there's always more traffic in the first couple of weeks as everyone irons out their routines. Commuters should consider routes that avoid school zones altogether.
And if you're dropping off kids or passing through a school zone on your morning ride, look out for crossing guards.
Metro Police have 80 crossing guards on the payroll and are looking for 60 more. Crossing guards work part-time with the Traffic Division: three hours a day, split between the start and end of the school day.
Officers are looking for people who are community-oriented, and hope a bump in pay this year from $12.44 to $18 an hour will spark more interest.
But those who do the job every year say the rewards go beyond dollar bills.
"You develop relationships with all these kids and it's no longer about pay, some of them have crossed kids and they're grown up and crossing those kid's kids, which is pretty neat," said Sgt. Denton.
Right now guards work a lot of doubles, starting at an elementary school and moving to a middle school afterward. More staffing can help cover those shifts.
If you're interested, apply in person at MNPD headquarters on Murfreesboro Pike or on the Metro Nashville website.