New ‘Don’t Drive Distracted’ signs posted near Clinton City Schools

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CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) – The Clinton Police Department posted on its Facebook page that officers and city public works crews placed new signs near Clinton City Schools to improve safety.

The signs read, “Don’t Drive Distracted,” and show a picture of a cellphone crossed out.

Vaughn Becker, chief of Clinton police, said he wanted to post the signs to urge drivers to think about the safety of students and remind them to follow the law.

He said they posted the signs on Tuesday near each three elementary schools for now, because the department provides school resource officers to Clinton City Schools.

“That’s probably where you have the most risk of people walking, younger people walking and the risk of somebody getting hit (by) somebody not paying attention in those school zones,” Becker said.

Becker said the signs also reinforce the new hands-free law that went into effect July 1.

He said that at first, officers issued warnings to drivers violating the law.

However, recently, officers started to issue citations. Becker said they’ve issued several citations in the past few weeks.

Violating the hands-free law in a school zone could result in a heftier citation though.

Becker wasn’t aware of any violations near the school zones, but they wanted to be proactive and prevent drivers from distracted driving with the new signs.

Kelly Johnson, director of Clinton City Schools, said the idea of the signs came up during a routine discussion of school safety around pickup and drop-off times.

With the Clinton City Schools Central Office directly adjacent to the busiest elementary school, Johnson said she personally sees parents and other drivers violate the law.

“It’s not ill-intended. You know, no one seeks out to get in their car and not pay attention, it’s just a natural result of the busy lives that we lead…speed increases when it shouldn’t, when kids are getting out of the car, and parents are distracted when they’re driving,” Johnson said.

She said even though we have busy lives, distracted driving is dangerous, especially when near a school.

Johnson also hopes these signs will prevent any tragic incident from happening.

“Our schools are located in high traffic areas. We were hoping that’s just a visual reminder for parents as they go through, that they need to make sure they’re off their cell phones and paying attention to the little children in the area,” Johnson said.

Becker said he plans to add more signs to Clinton Elementary because there are multiple entry points to the school.

He also wants to post the signs at Clinton Middle and Clinton High schools.

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