CLINTON — Brenda Doty has personally had some close calls and worries about the safety of the students she watches over.

As a crossing guard at 20th Avenue North and Third Street, she is responsible for the safety of the Horace Mann Elementary School students who cross there.

“Traffic is very busy on Third,” she said. “I tell (students) to watch the lights even though it’s red, the cars don’t like to stop.”

Several times Doty has had to put her hand out and stop the kids in the middle of the intersection. “Cars are still going on a red light. So I really watch the kids.”

She also has concerns for her own safety. “Many times I’ve been out there and the light’s green and I don’t get a chance to get back on the curb before traffic starts moving,” she explained. “But that’s my job. I would rather me get hit than any of the little ones get hit.”

She has reason to worry.

According to statistics from a Clinton Police Department radar check on southbound traffic at the intersection from 3 to 3:15 p.m. Thursday, 24 vehicles were driving up to 5 mph over the speed limit. Nine were driving 5 to 10 mph over and another four drivers were going 10 to 15 mph over the speed limit

The officer said if northbound traffic had been tracked as well, there may have been more.

It’s a problem school district officials have been aware of for quite some time.

Clinton School District Superintendent Randy Clegg says people drive too fast in school zones.

“Cars not driving the speed limit in a school zone has been an ongoing problem,” he said.

Clegg believes one way to solve the problem is to give more speeding tickets.

“In the South, people hit the breaks because fines and speeding tickets are pretty stiff,” he explained. “You look at Horace Mann, you look at Clinton High and look in front of Washington. They’ve reduced the speed limit but people still blow through there.”

The speed limit in school zones is currently 25 miles per hour. Clegg says school resource officers monitor the school zones but they can’t be out there every day.

The speed of cars going past Horace Mann is always a concern for Principal Roger Winterlin.

“We take a lot of precautions. We have crossing guards out there. They do a real good job with that,” he said.

According to Winterlin, North Third Street speeders are the biggest problem; he has less of a concern with the three streets that border the school campus.

In regard to North Third Street, Winterlin said, “when you have a school that close to that busy of a street, you’re always going to have some issues like that.”

For Jefferson Elementary School Principal Michelle Pearson, safety is not so much with speeding but with congestion because Washington Middle School and Jefferson are next door to each other.

“I can’t believe we haven’t had an accident with almost 1,000 students getting out within three minutes of each other,” she said.

Pearson hopes moving into the new Jefferson building this week will alleviate some of the problem.

While some schools have problems, Bluff Elementary School Principal John Jorgensen says he has not had complaints from parents about cars going too fast in his school zone.

“They are either slowing down or speeding up. So it’s really not that much of an issue in my mind at Bluff,” Jorgensen said. “I’m not saying that by the time they get down to that crossing guard they’re not moving pretty fast. My bigger concern is that the crossing guard is looking where the cars are at and he turns the (red) light on them when they don’t have a chance to stop.”

Doty believes it is the drivers who need to behave responsibly. Students don’t think about their own safety.

“There are rules where they have to stand,” Doty explained. “The older ones kind of like to push the limit. A lot of them want to step out before I get a chance to stop them.”

The crossing guard does see police patroling the neighborhood and cars do slow down, but “the minute the police leave they speed up and they (police) can’t always be out there. They have other things to do.”

Doty admits sometimes she gets a scared.

“But if I let that get to me I wouldn’t be able to do my job everyday,” she said.