Q. How is "School Zone, 20 mph When Children Are Present" defined by law enforcement? Is it in effect only during school hours, or does...

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Q.
How is “School Zone, 20 mph When Children Are Present” defined by law enforcement? Is it in effect only during school hours, or does it apply 24 hours per day, 365 days a year? If children are in their classrooms or on the playground, but not near the street, are drivers still required to drive 20 mph?

A.
Let’s start from the beginning. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission defines a school zone as 600 feet in length, designated by two signs, both 300 feet on either side of a marked crosswalk.

The speed limit within a school zone is 20 mph at all times on all days unless otherwise posted, said Lynn Drake, the commission’s Pedestrian, Bicycle and School Zone Safety Program manager. Speeding through a school zone will net a fine of at least $177, she said.

“I think what people tend to forget and don’t really realize is our schools are now more of a community hub for children even after school,” said Drake, naming clubs that meet after the final bell and sports teams that practice on weekends as examples. “There’s a constant flow of pedestrian traffic around our schools.”

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Four types of school zones have signs that require drivers slow to 20 mph at specific times:

• When children are present


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Got an Eastside traffic question? Send it to us by e-mail, east@seattletimes.com; by fax, 425-453-0449; by mail, The Seattle Times Eastside News Bureau, 1200 112th Ave. N.E., Suite C-145, Bellevue, WA 98004.


• From 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

• When flagged

• When flashing

As to what exactly “when children are present” means, here is the state Department of Transportation’s definition within the Washington Administrative Code. Children are “present” when:

• They occupy or are walking within the marked crosswalk

• They occupy or are waiting at the curb or on the shoulder of the roadway and are about to cross the road using the crosswalk

• They are walking along the roadway, either on the adjacent sidewalk or on the shoulder within the posted school speed limit zone

Your best bet probably is to just slow down whenever you pass through a school zone. In the grand scheme of things, how much time are you really going to save by speeding through? What if you hurt someone’s kid? And really, who wants a $177 ticket?

• Congratulations to Caitlin Shaffer, a sixth grader and a safety-patrol captain at Elizabeth Blackwell Elementary in Sammamish. Last month, AAA of Washington inducted Caitlin and nine other Washington students into its School Safety Patrol Hall of Fame to recognize their dedication to community safety.

• For anyone else wondering about those white puffballs drifting along Highway 520 like fuzzy snowflakes, the state Department of Transportation has the answer: Cottonwood tree seeds.

Early warning

Snoqualmie:
The Meadowbrook Bridge on Meadowbrook Way near Snoqualmie will be closed for construction through October. Suggested detours are Highway 202 or Reinig Road/428th Avenue Southeast.

Bellevue:
Southeast 16th Street between 145th Place Southeast and 148th Avenue Southeast is closed for a natural-gas-line relocation and road improvements. It should be fully open to traffic by November, but crews will provide access to local homes and businesses.

Bellevue:
Southbound Bellevue Way will be closed Monday from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. Tuesday between Northeast 4th Street and Northeast 8th Street. On Tuesday, the same stretch will close in the northbound direction from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. Wednesday. This will enable crews to work on a new pedestrian overpass between Bellevue Square mall and the new Lincoln Square development.

Bellevue:
Expect three weeks of lane closures on 148th Avenue Southeast near Interstate 90. They’ll begin Tuesday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. between Southeast 24th Street and Southeast Eastgate Way.

Bellevue:
Expect 110th Avenue Northeast to be closed Saturday between Northeast 4th Street and Northeast 6th Street from 9 a.m. until around 4 p.m. for paving should the rain stay away. Local access will be permitted. The city is widening 110th Avenue Northeast to the east by one lane, and adding turn lanes at Northeast 4th and Northeast 6th streets.

Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618 or kgaudette@seattletimes.com

Got an Eastside traffic question? Send it to The Seattle Times Eastside News Bureau, 1200 112th Ave. N.E., Suite C-145, Bellevue, WA 98004. Fax: 425-453-0449. E-mail: east@seattletimes.com