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Kids Dodging Vehicles In Del Valle
You can teach children the rules of the road -- don't cross on a red light, never step out in front of an oncoming vehicle, and always look both ways. But right outside several Central Texas schools, we found youngsters darting in front of and dodging speeding vehicles.
On Ross Road in Del Valle there are three schools, an elementary, middle and high school.
The speed limit is 40 miles per hour, and there's only one school zone.
The slower zone only covers part of the elementary school and cross walk, parents say leaving unprotected gaps along the busy road.
"As for the length of the school zone, we think it's very appropriate," said Gary Schatz with Austin’s Transportation Department.
In the school zone, the speed limit is 25 miles per hour, but once you're out it accelerates to 40.
"We're looking at where children are crossing or are likely to cross," said Schatz. "The crossings are being made at the signal. We're not seeing crossings occurring elsewhere, and because that is the point of need that is where the school zone is applied."
So KEYE TV staked out Ross Road for three days.
We found a parent walking their child across the street -- not at the cross walk.
Just down the street from the middle school we found kid after kid after kid crossing into 40 mile per hour oncoming traffic.
One child even stepped out right in front of our vehicle.
"The school zone activates at take up and pick up times when the children are crossing the street there, the rest of the time it's appropriate for it to be 40 miles per hour," said Schatz.
According to the Austin Police Department during the past six months there have been six accidents along a less than one mile stretch of Ross Road.
According to city records there have also been numerous speeding and cell phone violations issued in that area.
While the city takes all that data into account, they argue studies show the shorter the distance of the school zone, the more likely drivers are to pay attention.
"If you keep the school zones tight and meaningful in terms of driver perception we find better compliance," said Schatz.
Schatz says they have installed flashing lights to help notify drivers of the school zone, and if there are problems they will go back out to the location and see if they need to extend the school zone.
They could also look at a step down program, slowing the speed as drivers approach the zone.
Parts of Ross Road were recently annexed by the City of Austin from Travis County.
By Adam Racusin