My kids haven’t started back to school yet (about 116 hours – not that I’m counting), but the school where I work opened yesterday and judging by the flurry of pictures I’m seeing on Facebook, many others started welcoming kids back this week.
That means school zones are back in effect from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., with speed cameras busily snapping away and tickets winging their way across the city to those caught going 6 miles over the limit.
I am a rule-follower by nature and have never gotten an actual speeding ticket – like from a traffic cop – in my life. I did, however, get a camera ticket for speeding in a school zone last year – it was a time of day I am not usually traveling, but I’d taken off of work early and out of habit went too fast down Broadway.
When I lived in Missouri, a school zone was always a school zone – the limit was 20 mph regardless of what time of day it was and whether students could reasonably be expected to be there. It was annoying, but at least it was consistent. You never had to look down at your clock and curse while slamming on the brakes.
Here, I want to follow the rules – not just because I’m a rule-follower and not just because I can’t afford too many camera tickets but primarily because I actually want to keep the roads safer!
I would’ve voted for LaToya Cantrell for mayor anyway – I’m a proud Broadmoor resident, and she is a strong advocate for my neighborhood and did some great work for the city and its people as president of the Broadmoor Improvement Association. But when she made getting rid of the cameras a campaign promise, I was equal parts skeptical and excited. I’d love to see the cameras gone; I just didn’t really believe it.
Now, I am not surprised to see Mayor Cantrell walking back that promise to some degree, saying, according to The Advocate, that more studies are needed to determine the effects of traffic cameras on safety in school zones.
I’m OK with this. Again, I care about safety, obviously, especially for kids. But if we really care about student safety in school zones, an even better policy than cameras would be actually marking school zones clearly! Many school zone signs are only on one side of the street or are obscured or have flashers that don’t work.
Even without the cameras, I would be more than happy to comply with going 20 mph in a school zone – but I need to know when and where the school zones are in effect, and I think clear signage and especially flashers would be tremendously effective, whether in combination with cameras or not. I know if the flashers were working on Broadway that fall day when I was driving 27 mph at 3 p.m., I would not have been speeding – and that would have been good for me because I wouldn’t have gotten a ticket, but it would also have been good for everyone’s safety because I would have had a reminder to me to slow down and thus wouldn’t have been speeding in the first place.
Now that we have a charter system with varying start and end dates for the school year and school breaks, we need flashing reminders more than ever.
Facebook is great for cute back-to-school pics, but it should not be the main way we can find out if a school zone is back in effect. Clear signage and ideally flashers would be the best way to communicate and enforce these laws – and keep everyone safer.
What do you think about school zone cameras?