School Starts With Traffic Jam, Near Accidents

"Yeah, you can turn right here. Yeah, drop off right there. Watch your car, watch your car!" Precinct 2 Constable Frank Creath, of Smith County, told one driver trying to turn into Owens Elementary School.

Moments like those are typical at Owens, the second largest elementary school in the district.

"If the parents would just be patient and get here a little earlier, instead of five minutes 'til 8, that would help a whole lot," Karen Montgomery, an Owens parent, said.

She has been volunteering every day for the past year as a crossing guard.

"Tempers flare sometimes because one of the biggest problems is drivers cut drivers off," Creath said.

He and his officers have been directing traffic at Owens for the past seven years.

"I'm still stuck in it, so it's pretty bad," Angela Correa, a parent dropping off her child, said.

Another problem drivers face is the deteriorating road that runs in front of the school. In fact, only this week did Smith County patch up large potholes and cracks. But officers say it's the faded lane stripe and right-turn arrow that make it hard for drivers to see that there is a turn lane into the school.

"That's the right turn lane," Montgomery said. "And this lane right here, they'll just go on anyway."

"It's been crazy," Alison Goff, another parent, said. "Probably about 15 minutes, I've been standing in line."

"If parents didn't really care about their kids, we really wouldn't have that much traffic," Michael Chisholm, a patient parent, said. "They'd just drop them off and let them go."

Luckily, the traffic jam at Owens is just a short term problem. After the kids are used to their new environment, most parents won't be walking them to class every day.

Creath says more than 7,000 cars every day travel the road in front of Owens Elementary. There are more than 900 students at the school.

Julie Tam, reporting.