COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – With children heading back to school, law enforcement will be out enforcing the lower speed limit in school zones.

During morning or evening commutes, there are yellow flashing lights near school zones, reminding drivers that the speed limit slows to 20 mph. 

According to officials, the city is working to make sure all schools are equipped with yellow flashing lights. However, slowing down is still required in school zones without yellow flashing lights.

The Columbus Police Motorcycle Traffic Control Unit will be out daily, making sure drivers are slowing down and not on their cell phones. So far this year, the motorcycle unit has issued about 500 citations, and in the counter year of 2022, they handed out about 1,400 in the city.

“Just pay attention to the signage and flashing lights and realize that particularly in the beginning of the school year where we have young kids that are excited to be back in school, excited to see friends they haven’t seen since May, sometimes they tend to forget the rules of looking both ways before you cross the road,” said Sargent Isaac Bridges with the Motorcycle Traffic Control Unit.

Police officers will also be pulling over individuals who fail to properly stop behind a school bus when it’s required. Starting in October, according to Sargent Bridges, officers will begin heavily enforcing the “Hands Free Law.” 

According to the law, it is illegal for drivers to use or hold any electronic device in their hand, lap, or other parts of the body while driving. If a driver is caught on their phone while in a school zone, officers can issue them an additional citation.

“We’ve had situations where we’ve had little ones run right out into the street not realizing that a cars coming,” Bridges said. “It’s up to us as adults and the motoring public to make sure that we are extra vigilant in and around the school zones and as always with your phones, put your phones down and your eyes up.”

If a driver doesn’t follow the school zone laws during school hours and gets pulled over, it is an automatic court appearance that will come with a heavy fine.