MINNEHAHA COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) – As traffic zips by on Six Mile Road in front of the Brandon Valley School District’s Fred Assam Elementary, drivers will notice something different this year.

“This process started in 2019,” said Jessie Paquette, who has two kids who go to school at Fred Assam. “We had a good family friend who lost his six-year-old grandson in a crosswalk in Colorado, and living here and seeing Six Mile, it just, we needed to have some, just some kind of distraction that would slow people down.”

Paquette decided to take action.

“I called the City of Sioux Falls, and they said that’s out of our jurisdiction,” Paquette said. “And so then I called the county, and they said it’s going to be the highway superintendent, and so then him and I worked together to get it done.”

But it didn’t happen overnight. All the necessary parts for these “rapid rectangular flashing beacons” at Mystic Drive and Six Mile Road weren’t readily available, but they arrived and were installed in time for the new school year. Wednesday was the first day of school in the Brandon Valley School District; Thursday brings the first day for the Sioux Falls School District.

“We’ve found, the drivers, over 90% of them are stopping or yielding for people trying to cross when you push the button,” said Heath Hoftiezer, traffic operations engineer with the City of Sioux Falls.

“It just gives the pedestrians a little more visibility when they’re walking across the crosswalk,” Minnehaha County Highway Superintendent Steve Groen said.

The visibility adds some safety and peace of mind.

“You don’t want to lose a life,” Paquette said. “It’s like, you fight for it because you want your kids to be able to get to school safe.”