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School crosswalk dangers highlighted in demonstration

You see the 20 mph speed limit sign in a school zone, but not everyone obeys. The Idaho Falls Police Department said it’s catching motorists speeding on a regular basis.

“It is amazing that people don’t even notice that the sign is blinking and there are signs on the road. I step up to the curb even when the kids aren’t present to make myself noticeable so they know that there is a crosswalk here,” said Terri Liddle, crosswalk guard at Falls Valley Elementary.

The Idaho Falls Police Department said speeding is a serious problem in school zones. Right now, police are ticketing people going 10 mph faster than the speed limit.

To show you just how dangerous it can be driving in a school zone, Local News 8 and KIDK-TV decided to set up an experiment with the help of some parents and the Police Department.

Sgt. Dave Frie and traffic Officer Michael Cosens marked off the stopping distance you need to avoid running anyone over. Cardboard targets were also set up in the parking lot of Sam’s Club.

City Engineer Kent Fugal said there are national standards set for stopping distance, and they are specified for a reason.

“Traveling at 20 mph, once a driver has actually applied the brakes, it is going to take about 40 feet to stop,” Fugal said.

At 20 mph, Cosens was able to stop his vehicle in plenty of time. But at 25 miles per hour, the vehicle hit two out of the three targets.

“More than likely there is going to be serious injuries on the two girls, and the boy is going to have some sort of injuries. If we were doing 20, our chances of hitting any of them would have been significantly reduced,” Cosens said.

Finally, Cosens drove 30 mph and stopped at the same line. When Cosens slammed on his breaks, the police car smashed into all of the cardboard targets.

“These children at 30 mph would more than likely suffer serious injuries or worse,” he said.

He also said now more than ever, it is important to slow down.

“Before, you had a long time before you hit the crosswalk. Now they’ve shortened them just a little bit. It makes it more imperative to obey the 20-mile-an-hour limit,” he said.

Cosens also said pedestrians play a role. They should follow traffic laws just as much as motorists.

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