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State police remind drivers to follow school zone speed limits as classes resume

Drivers can face double fines for speeding in school zones and at least $450 for passing a stopped school bus.

SOUTHINGTON, Conn. — Kids are already back in the classroom or are enjoying the final days of summer before heading back to school. Connecticut State Police are reminding drivers to be cautious of school enforcement zones.

Most importantly, those on the road should put the distractions away, including cell phones, state police Sergeant Christine Jeltema said.

"Plan accordingly, start planning ahead if you have to leave 10, 15 minutes earlier," she said. "We are always in the area, especially the first couple of weeks of school just to make sure that people are adhering to what those school zone speed limits are."

There are monetary punishments if a driver speeds in a school zone, double what the cost would be if class wasn't in session.

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Not all schools may be in a designated school zone. Some schools may not have any signs nearby notifying drivers of the educational center. School speed limits in school zones can be established after an investigation by the Division of Traffic Engineering and approval by the office of the State Traffic Administration. 

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School buses will also once again make an appearance across the state. When the stop sign stretches out as kids get off or on the bus, drivers need to stop or can face monetary punishments and possible jail time. In Connecticut, a person who violates the law will face a $450 fine for the first offense. After that, the fine increases from $500 to $1,000 or up to 30 days in jail, or both. 

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Drivers can face $450 in fines and possible jail time for driving past a stopped school bus loading or unloading kids.

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Jeltema also said drivers need to pay attention to kids waiting for the bus as the days get shorter with winter approaching. She also encourages people to watch out for crossing guards.

It can also be confusing to know when and where to follow school zones as the start date varies across the state's districts. Jeltema said people should be cautious regardless of this time of year.

Drivers should slow down and be on alert for kids when backing out of the driveway or parking garage as well as students on bikes, the state Department of Transportation said.

More than 330,000 students in the state ride the bus. The DOT said parents should consider having their children wear bright clothes so they can easily be seen by cars, secure items in the kids' bags so they don't drop out, and make sure the kids are visible to the bus driver when boarding.

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tblack@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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