Fresno Unified officials call on the city to make school zones safer

Brittany Jacob Image
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Fresno Unified officials call on the city to make school zones safer
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Nearly three times as many Fresno Unified students have been hit by a car this year compared to last year.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Nearly three times as many Fresno Unified students have been hit by a car this year compared to last year. Now, school and city leaders are working to make school zones safer.

According to Fresno Unified School District's Safety Office, there have been 11 vehicle vs. student pedestrian accidents since the start of the school year. That's in comparison to four incidents last year. Most of the crashes have happened near McLane High school in Central Fresno.

FUSD Trustee Veva Islas says the schools and the district are creating safety plans. But Islas is also calling on the city and the county to invest more in areas around campuses.

"We can't paint sidewalks, we can't construct crosswalks, stop signs...signals. And those things are things that a lot of our schools desperately need," Islas said.

Islas is also the Executive Director of Cultiva La Salud, an organization that creates a Safe Routes to School Plan.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the greatest risk to a child isn't riding a school bus, but approaching or leaving one.

In an effort to bring awareness these types of safety issues, the district has partnered with the Safe 2 School program. This is where parents, students, and community members can serve as crossing guards at local school sites.

"It's exactly why we need to advocate for those investments, so parents can have that confidence so that we as a community can protect our children," Islas said. "It's good for their health, it's good for our community, and it's something that's desperately needed."

Fresno police are also taking action to help keep kids safe with programs like Operation No Recess for Safety, where officers focus on traffic safety around the schools.

Sgt. Todd Turney says it is especially important for drivers to pay attention and slow down.

"If you are driving, be attentive, be aware of kids in crosswalks.," Sgt. Turney said. "For the people on bicycles, for the people on scooters, and for the people walking, make sure we do cross at the crosswalks to increase our safety, make sure it's clear."

Trustee Islas tells me there is a city-school liaison committee with school and city leaders.

Council President Nelson Esparza says they plan to address more of these issues during their meeting in the first quarter of the year.