In an effort to improve safety in school zones, the Van Buren Police Department will conduct a “no phone zone” campaign Dec. 11-15.

Lt. Larry Brown said the purpose of the campaign is to reduce the number of distracted drivers in school zones by enforcing Arkansas Code 27-51-1609.

“The City of Van Buren will post signs at the entrance to school zones to indicate that use of handheld wireless telephones is prohibited,” Brown said. “Officers will conduct patrols in school zones to identify drivers that are violating this statute and take enforcement action.”

The statute states:

• Except as provided under subsection (b) of this section, a driver of a motor vehicle shall not use a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle when passing a school building or school zone during school hours when children are present and outside the building.

• A driver of a motor vehicle who is passing a school building or school zone during school hours when children are present and outside the building may use a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle for an emergency purpose.

• This section does not apply to law enforcement officers.

If cited and subsequently found guilty of violating the statute, a driver could be fined $215 in Crawford County District Court and have his or her driver’s license suspended for a period of not more than 30 days, Brown said.

A second offense within five years of the first offense could result in a $300 fine and up to a 90-day license suspension while a third offense could mean a $500 fine and one-year suspension of driver’s license.

Brown said officers in marked patrol units and some in unmarked units will be working the campaign during the before and after school hours when students are arriving and departing the school campuses.

“We ask the public to make the effort to put their phones down while driving,” Brown said.