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Law enforcement push school zone safety, hope higher fines will help

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MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Minnesota students are enjoying their last hours of summer vacation while Minnesota law enforcement is spending this time reminding drivers of school zone laws.

WDAY spoke with Valley Bus recently. It says cars passing school buses is a weekly, sometimes daily offense taking place right here in the metro.

If student safety isn't enough to keep drivers on the right side of the law, patrollers say they're betting the financial sting will.

It's been a few months since the big yellow bus has pulled through this lot.

In a few hours, the bustle will begin again with students starting another year.

The first couple of days are always quite busy because everyone is wanting to make sure they get there early and their children are there ready to learn and get into school," says Alison Wallace, who lives near Ellen Hopkins Elementary in Moorhead.

Because of this, Minnesota State troopers say now is an important time to pitch school zone safety after a summer of forgetting.

The last few months we've maybe gotten out of the habit we have seen those big bright yellow vehicles transporting, again, world's most precious cargo, " says Sergeant Jesse Grabow with the Minnesota State Patrol.

Grabow says it won't be cheap if you're caught. He hopes high fines will deter any dangerous driving.

For anyone caught driving distracted, like texting, that's a $100 fine.

A speeding ticket normally costing anywhere from $40 to $150 could be doubled.

The fine for passing a stopped school bus grew last year from $300 to $500 in Minnesota.

"It's not safe at all to pass a school bus so the bigger the fine the better," said parent Brady Dickelman.

Parents WDAY spoke to in school zones don't think they'll be dealing with any of those issues in the coming weeks.

They say they've been happy with the safety where it matters most.

"I think schools do a really good job and parents are out there looking out for each other. So, in this neighborhood it seems to be working pretty well," said. Wallace.

Grabow hopes this streak of clean driving won't wear off any time soon.

"If it's the beginning of the school year, end of school, middle of school, we should never lose sight of the bigger picture which is keeping everyone."

He says just take the time to plan a few extra minutes in your morning commute now that class is in session.

"Things can change so quickly out there and a little bit of patience can go a long way," said Grabow.

Besides the high fines, these infractions will also have an effect on insurance rates and driving records.