A new school year has started at Beekman Charter, and to ensure the safety of students and staff, School Resource Officer Randall Carroll wants to remind everyone of several laws and regulations in place.

One important thing Carroll notes is that Beekman is a Hands-Free Zone. This means that cellphone use by drivers of a vehicle is prohibited. This is in accordance with Louisiana State Law RS32:3008.

“It is against the law to talk and text on a cell phone in a Hands-Free Zone,” said Officer Carroll

Offenses will incur large fines. First time violators will be fined no more than $175 and violators will be fined $500 for each subsequent offense. If a crash occurs the fine will be doubled. This law is in effect for all school zones with a yellow sign saying “Hands-Free Zone.” The sign is located underneath the school-zone sign.

“Anywhere these school-zone signs are located it can be enforced and it will be enforced,” said Carroll.

Another problem Carroll sees is unresponsiveness to deputies and emergency lights. The normal school-zone speed limit is 40, but if there is an officer or emergency lights drivers must slow down.

“Although school-zones are marked with a speed limit, when a deputy and emergency lights are at that location, drivers should slow further and watch for instructions from the officer,” said Carroll. “If emergency lights are up, just like with a crash you should yield.”

Some people continue at the 40 speed limit and do not slow down. Carroll notes that he sees this a lot, and says that when a deputy is present he or she should be obeyed and not the speed limit signs.

“When a deputy is out there they take the place of stop signs, traffic lights, everything,” he said.

Officer Carroll encourages drivers to follow the school-zone laws and traffic signs so that students will have a safe and enjoyable school year.