Students, neighbors of Centennial HS say safety lights at proble - KPTV - FOX 12

Students, neighbors of Centennial HS say safety lights at problematic crosswalk helping

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Rapid-flash safety lights now mark where it's safe for Centennial High School students to cross the street, after a series of students were hit by cars there in 2015.

But are those lights really slowing drivers down? The Fox 12 investigators went to the intersection to find out.

A new school year means a fresh start for many students at Centennial High, though many of them still think about what happened that January day in 2015 when three students were hit by a car as they crossed Southeast 182nd.

"There was a problem with traffic, and we found out that three of my own friends were hit by a car on the very street next to our school," said CHS Senior Brianna Stout. "I know it has been very stressful for them and it definitely was a bit of a recovery."

Just a day before that, another student was hit by a car, in practically the same place.

That prompted the city to install rapid-flash safety lights so students could cross the intersection safely.

"Ever since they put up signs with lights it's helped a lot because drivers can see down the hill," said CHS senior Aaron Clark.  "It warns people wanting to cross to slow down, it's safer."

So far the lights seem to be working, when our cameras were rolling we caught no one breaking the law. The school district told Fox 12 they've had no incidents since they were put in place.

Gresham police told Fox 12 in 2015 they issued five traffic citations to drivers not obeying the rules of the road in that area and nine this year so far.

In 2015, GPD says there were 11 crashes near the school and in 2016 so far just three.

To keep drivers in line, Gresham Police officers occasionally park outside of the high school looking for speeders. 

"Today we're doing pretty well and mid-day that tends to be the case," said GPD Officer Cliff Hoecker.

School's not in session yet, which means drivers can cruise through here at 40 mph. Though that doesn't always happen, especially during summer.

Officer Hoecker clocked one driver traveling at 51 mph.

"It's time for high school, slow it down and be very careful," said neighbor Conrad Caldwell.

Hoecker says school zones will be 100 percent enforced when school begins this week, and that means all drivers must slow down to 20 mph when traveling around Centennial High.

"It's real frustrating especially in a busy area like this, because there are a lots of kids," said Hoecker. 

Gresham police say they will be out at a handful of different schools this week keeping an eye out for drivers speeding through school zones. They also say it's important for pedestrians to obey the rules of the road as well, and to always use a crosswalk when possible.

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