MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — Leaders from the Mt. Juliet Police Department, Mt. Juliet Middle School, and West Wilson Middle School met on Thursday to discuss concerns about unorganized and unsafe child pedestrian traffic during school dismissal.
According to police, the unsafe activity stems from motorists not following the school’s designated traffic plan for picking up kids from school, which results in students darting across Woodridge Place, Charlie Daniels Parkway, and Mt. Juliet Road to get to motorists at private parking lots or non-authorized areas nearby.
On top of that, officials reported that many children are ignoring crosswalks and walking between cars, while motorists are stopping in the travel lanes so they can quickly pick kids up.
Due to the frequency of dangerous behavior, school officials and law enforcement are taking efforts to protect children.
“Students will not be allowed to cross Woodridge at all (any legitimate walkers will use the sidewalk to the subdivision),” Mt. Juliet Middle School wrote on Facebook on Friday, Jan. 20. “Students will not be allowed to dismiss and walk to the front of the school (all pickup is in the back of the school), and only students living in Willow Creek will be allowed to exit on foot via Charlie Daniels Parkway.”
Whether they ride in a vehicle or travel on foot, authorities said students have the following options for a safe afternoon pickup:
- Being picked up by a car in an authorized, safe location that follows the school traffic plan
- Getting on the bus in an authorized, safe bus loading zone
- Walking a safe distance from their school to their home while using appropriate crosswalks and sidewalks
In addition, police ask afternoon motorists not to impede the flow of traffic by picking up a child while stopped in a travel lane, or park on unauthorized private or business property while waiting to pick up a child.
“I’ve witnessed many scary moments with children darting across traffic, and this activity simply cannot continue. School leadership and I all understand that MJ Middle School has more students due to the continued construction of West Wilson Middle, which leads to more traffic. However, we must all work together to keep children safe, and the activity we have witnessed lately is far from safe. I hope everyone understands and will cooperate with the school’s plan to ensure dismissal is orderly and safe.”Mt. Juliet Police Chief James Hambrick
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Starting on Monday, Jan. 23, officials said there will be extra officers on the roads around school to enforce safe, lawful driving behavior by issuing citations and redirecting families to support student pickup procedures.
“The ultimate goal of everyone is to ensure children have safe routes to and from school,” the Mt. Juliet Police Department said in a statement. “To ensure such, motorists and parents are strongly encouraged to follow the school’s traffic plan and further information provided by school leadership.”