Region 8 News Investigates: Caught at the crossing

Region 8 News Investigates: Caught at the crossing

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - One Region 8 principal wants parents to put down the phone. Especially when they are in a school zone.

In October 2011 a law went into effect prohibiting cell phone use in school zones. Principal Dale Case at Jonesboro's Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School says some parents are not following the rules.

"When you get on to someone or you confront them about what they're doing, the next time they'll come through they'll just hide it," Principal Case said.

Vehicles line the block of Hillcrest Drive every afternoon at VPA. Sometimes parents show up as early at 1:30 p.m.

"They'll have their phone up to their ear as they're pulling up to drop off their children as though it's not a problem," Case said.

According to Arkansas law, it is illegal for drivers to use hand-held cell phones while traveling through school zones during school hours when children are present.

"We'll confront them," Case said. "We'll just say are you aware first of all and then we just encourage them to put their phone down and sometimes they will."

Case says he's done everything he can think of to makes parents aware that this is not okay. Bright signs line the hallways as a reminder to parents. Case sent letters home with students and installed 2 street signs. Even with that, parents still can't seem to follow the rules.

In our Region 8 News undercover investigation, our cameras caught at least 12 drivers looking at their phones while students were present.

"It's really difficult for parents to follow rules," Case said. "You know, we'll say kids are kids every day, but adults you never know. They're adults one day and kids the next."

Region 8 news spoke to drivers to get their thoughts about the law.

"It's perfect," one mother said. "I totally agree with it."

"I don't see texting a lot," one man said. "I see where it's good, it's bad, it's both sides."

For Principal Case, it is all about safety. "There have been things, you know, in this area that have happened to children at drop-off time," Case said. "Accidents can happen at any point, but you're willingly on your phone. That's not an accident that you're on your phone."

Case just asks parents to think twice about picking up their phones in a school zone because you never know who is watching. According to law enforcement, it is a

secondary offense. If you receive a citation, Craighead County District Court officials say it could cost you up to $250.

The state law specifies hands-free devices are exempt from the law. The only time a driver is allowed to use a hand-held device is for emergency purposes, like to call 911. It is also important to note the law does not apply to law enforcement officers.

Click here to read the entire state law.

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