Beacons slowing cars down in Marion Co. school zones

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- More safety beacons are going up throughout Marion County in school zones.

The new flashing yellow lights are supposed to help alert drivers to the upcoming speed limit. Some IMPD traffic enforcement officers are already seeing a clear difference between the zones without these new beacon lights and those that have them.

As a traffic enforcement patrolman over the years, officer Tracy Nash has seen the worst of them.

“Up at Snacks Crossing Elementary on West 56th Street, it’s a four-lane, two lanes each direction and the speeds were very high,” said Nash. “I would get anywhere 50-60 miles an hour average. And I would usually average 50 to 60 tickets in close to seven hours.”

Nash says he’s starting to see the difference between zones with new flashing yellow “safety beacons” and those without.

“Once those are on, they should catch your attention,” says Nash as he approached one of the new beacons, which could be seen from about a quarter of a mile away. That’s far different than the lone sign speeders reading “School Zone between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.” that people often claim not to see.

“People that say they didn’t see the sign or they didn’t know that school was in session,” said Nash. “People, they thought they were on spring break or fall break.”

The lights, take away all the guesswork.

“Especially this time of year, school starting at different times, there’s some schools that still start in late to mid-August, others are starting in July,” said Nash. “So people don’t know when schools start, when they don’t, so I think it definitely helps inform the public.”

School 61 crossing guard Loraida Schultz says she’s already seen a significant change.

“They slow down a lot,” said Nash.

As officers showed CBS4 today, many cars are now pumping the brakes well before they hit the school zones.

For Nash, there’s only one major difficulty in changing from scheduled school zones.

“I have no idea if they’ve shut that light off on me,” said Nash.

From the middle of the school zones, Nash only sees the back of the light, so instead of checking the clock, he has to somehow see the light to ensure he’s only ticketing people when the lights are on.

Driver Kaneesha McCoun drove through the school zone Friday and believes the lights will help make school zones less dangerous if she and others pay attention.

“It could definitely slow traffic down,” said McCoun. “Safety-wise it will make things better for kids who are walking home, getting off the bus and stuff like that.”

The lights are set up by each school to flash during their busiest times.

That could just be arrival and dismissal, but at some schools includes times during the day such as recess.

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