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Kids in Danger

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November 13, 2003

Lee County-- Austin and Brandon are waiting for the school bus, as they watch cars whiz by. Their mothers worry. "I just wish people would slow down while the kids are waiting for the bus," says Erin Wood.

Graves Springs Road in Lee County is a five mile stretch of road where everyone's in a hurry. "It's bad in the mornings," says Dorothy McLain. "The buses will start, you know, putting their flashers on down the road and they still pass them to get by them," McLain says.

Drivers in a hurry, school buses in the way. "We tell them 'slow down, please slow down," says Wood. So we took our radar gun to Graves Springs Road. And car after car zoomed by, well over the 45 mile per hour speed limit in front of this bus stop. "We've called 911, like twice in the last two weeks and told them, 'I'm sick of it, I'm sick of it,'" says Wood.

When nothing changed, we called deputies. Lee County Sheriff Harold Breeden sent an entire shift, 11 deputies, to put a stop to all this speeding. "It's still early, wait until they're running late for school," says a deputy.

Nearly every car was clocked speeding. So deputies blocked off the highway and got busy. "What you're being stopped for this morning is you were running 56 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour speed zone," said a deputy. "Well, I'm late for work," said the driver.

Everyone had an excuse. "Yeah, I gotta get him to school," said one speeder. Others were in denial. "He clocked you going 62 in a 45, we you in a hurry? 'No, I wasn't.' Do you normally speed through here? 'No.'"

"He clocked you back there going 60 in a 45, are you in a hurry? 'Yeah.' Do you normally drive on this road? 'Yeah, all the time.' Do you normally speed? 'Um, I try not to on this road, but sometimes you're not paying attention.'"

"Do you think this road block will maybe make you think about it? 'Oh, yeah.'" "You think you'll slow down now? 'Yeah. Yeah. Don't take but one time to learn a lesson.'"

So did the roadblock make a difference? "I did see a difference the next day because people were slowing down and not coming by so fast," said Wood. But two days later, "We watched numerous cars again speed and pass the school buses,' she said. So what WILL it take? "The 45 zone probably needs to be lengthened a little bit," said Chief Deputy Dennis Parker. Wood adds, "Or even see if we can drop the speed limit here. If it's dropped to 35, maybe they'll go 55 instead of 65."

Until a solution is found, Austin and Brandon wait for their school bus and watch, as people in a hurry put their lives in danger.

posted at 10:16AM by dawnh@walb.com

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