DES MOINES, Iowa — As students are making their way back into the classrooms, the way to and from school comes with safety concerns.
“Safety is a constantly evolving topic that we look at frankly weekly in the school district,” said Doug Richardson, Des Moines Public Schools’ public safety specialist.
At South Union Elementary School, the district added a four-way stop sign intersection and an inset lane to help reduce and slow down traffic.
Around the district, DMPS is also adding additional crosswalks in hopes of continuing to protect students.
“You know in the recent past we did have a high school student get hit by a car, and unfortunately, she was killed in that incident. So when you look at those types of situations, you look at what can we do to prevent these things,” Des Moines Police Department’s Sgt. Paul Parizek said.
DMPD is aware of back to school traffic changes and said they are prepared for the higher traffic crowds and the need for slower school zones.
“When we have events like school starting, or if we know that we’ve got a big track meet or something at Drake, when we know there’s going to be a lot of kids — because they can be spontaneous, they can run out into traffic — we put those mobile cameras in those zones and then we tell everyone on Monday,” Parizek said.
Parizek said one of the most common traffic violations has to do with passing school buses.
DMPD stresses the importance of being aware around buses and to always stop.
“You know what we tell everybody to do is if you see that red stop arm come out and those lights come on, definitely stop,” Parizek said.
At the end of the day, officials say the main goal is to keep students safe, and it is a simple solution.
“Take your time, reduce your speed, be observant — not just of yourself, but everybody else, right? It’s everybody’s responsibility in terms of safety and unfortunately safety is not convenient, so we just need to take a deep breath, relax,” Richardson said.
If you do have a complaint about a traffic or safety concern, you can report it to DMPS Operations or directly to the City of Des Moines.