Odessa Safe Zones Keeping Schools Safe

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - 42nd Street next to Permian High School is one of the busiest in the City of Odessa. Back in 2006, the Police Department decided they needed to make some changes, so they developed the Safe Zones program, and so far, they say it's making a big difference.

"Everybody's in a hurry," Lt. Mark Rowden with E.C.I.S.D., said. "They've got someplace they need to be and they need to get there quickly."

Before Odessa Police began the Safe Zones program, they were writing over 100 citations for speeders going as fast as 93 mph in a 45 mph zone. In 2006, they averaged 14 traffic fatalities, so Odessa police decided something had to change.

"The majority of those accidents were the result of speed," Cpl. Sherrie Carruth with the Odessa Police Department, said. "It just felt like something needed to be done."

In early July, there were 103 traffic accidents, and after continuing the Safe Zones program, by the end of August that number dropped to 53.

"We're seeing the decrease," Cpl. Carruth said. "Now, school is back in session. I don't have the numbers for September, but that's what we're wanting. That's what this whole thing is aiming is to drop the number of accidents."

And now, their biggest focus is school zones.

"You have, not just the posted sign, you have flashing lights, you have crosswalks marked," Cpl. Carruth said. "So there's no excuse whatsoever for people speeding through school zones, for people not giving the right away to children."

Ector County I.S.D. police say Safe Zones has made a significant impact on protecting students and faculty on campus.

"We actually benefit from those because they recognize there are problems in those areas of the schools, because there is increased traffic especially before school at lunches, and after school. They target those areas," Lt. Rowden said.

E.C.I.S.D. Police say, as the Safe Zone program develops, more and more people are obeying traffic laws around the schools.

"It's advertised, they're going to be watching these particular areas at this particular time," Lt. Rowden said.

"We received lots and lots of complaints," Cpl. Carruth said. "So this week and on into next week the Safe Zones focus are going to be around schools."