NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Every day, thousands of Arkansas children walk to school. In some places, they are forced to cross busy streets and highways. THV 11 wanted to know just how safe those crossings are and what is being done keep drivers in check.
THV 11's Lisa Hutson spent a Monday morning at one of the busiest and most dangerous crosswalks in North Little Rock to see just how fast these drivers are going.
In early morning hours on JFK Boulevard, also known as Highway 107, hundreds of commuters are making their way to work. But before some of them get there, they will meet Officer Larry Mickel.
As our cameras rolled, Ofc. Mickel clocked a white van traveling 48 mph. The normal speed limit is 35 mph but when the school zone lights are on from 7:20 to 8:00 a.m., the speed limit drops to 25 mph.
"Here in about 15 minutes or so, it's about to be a school zone. All the school zones are going to start popping," Officer Mickel tells the driver.
In order to get to school every morning, some Park Hill elementary students must cross the four lane highway through heavy commuter traffic. That is why North Little Rock police patrol the intersection of JFK and H Street so heavily. But even with flashing school zone lights and a police presence, drivers still fly through the area posing a danger to children crossing the street.
"It's nothing for us to have six vehicles stopped within that time period of 7:20 to 8 o'clock," says Officer Mickel.
Not only is speeding and distracted driving dangerous in school zones, it can be pretty expensive. In North Little Rock, going up to 15 miles over the school zone speed limit will cost you $170. Fifteen to 20 miles over is $195 dollars and any speed over that means a mandatory court appearance.
On this morning, Officer Mickel wrote three speeding tickets within an hour, hoping the big tickets and stern warnings will slow drivers down and keep children safe.
"Do me a favor. Slow down because like I said you are getting close to school zone time. Thank you for being buckled up gentlemen," Officer Mickel tells another driver.
"Most of them are in the 47s. Average 47 mph so they are higher speeds so they are even higher speeds than what it is if it's a normal speed limit so there is really no reason for them to go that fast," says Officer Mickel.
According to Transportation for America, if a person is hit by a car traveling more than forty miles an hour, they have only a 15 percent chance of surviving. Those odds drop dramatically for children.
Between the years 2000 and 2007, 45 children were hit and killed by drivers while walking in Arkansas.