D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - School starts for tens of thousands of students across South Mississippi on Thursday. One police department is already taking action to warn drivers who travel in school zones. One of the traffic trouble spots they are focusing on is Brodie Road in D'Iberville. This year, there are changes in place to ease the traffic congestion in the area and help students get to and from school safely.
Since Monday, D'Iberville police officers have been stationed around three schools, running radar and urging drivers to slow down.
"If someone is excessively speeding right now, we're doing warnings and reminding people that school starts tomorrow," said Shannon Nobles, with the D'Iberville Police Department.
Yellow caution lights are already flashing so drivers can get used to the fact that they are traveling in a school zone.
"I want them to first of all be patient. We want them to be careful and be attentive to what's going on around them," said Nobles.
This year, drivers will have to learn a new traffic pattern around D'Iberville Elementary. Brodie Road, which is in front of the campus, is a popular shortcut for drivers.
"Brodie Road is used to cut through to get from D'Iberville to Biloxi, so it's popular for people to get to work in the mornings and afternoons. You throw in about 30 buses, with 200 to 300 cars, plus the normal traffic, so it's extremely hectic here on Brodie Road," said Nobles.
For years, traffic would often come to a standstill on Brodie Road.
"The policemen do a good job of designating it and trying to keep it moving, but it's definitely backed up in the mornings," said D'Iberville resident Lisa Crawford.
To help take some of the traffic off Brodie Road, the school built a small cut through. Parents can now lineup on Kajjan Road and use the cut through to reach the car rider loop. There is also a new road just for school buses to pick up and drop off students.
"This change will help eliminate the traffic off Brodie Road due to the high volume of our students that are in the car rider line. It's a change I think the D'Iberville school family and the community will be pleased with," said D'Iberville Elementary Assistant Principal Mary Margaret Mucha.
"I think the new way they're going to do it is going to help it be more efficient," said Crawford, whose 5-year-old son, Jake, is starting kindergarten this year.
D'Iberville police and a crossing guard will help direct traffic during those first days of school. The officers will also enforce those school zone rules.
"That's the mission here. We're not out here trying to write a bunch of tickets. We just want the kids to come here safely and to start school Thursday," said Nobles.
Officers will be on the lookout for violations like speeding, careless driving and not following officers' directions. Fines could be up to $200, depending on the violation. The busiest times around school zones in D'Iberville are between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.