Did you know that a child hit by a vehicle moving just 30 mph is eight times more likely to die than a child hit by a car going 20 mph or less? According to the brochure, Child Pedestrians at Risk in America, produced by the American Journal of Health Assoc. (AJPH). How fast should we go in a school zone? If it were up to most parents, we would not even be able to drive on the same street as our child’s school. And, let’s not forget that many law enforcement officers (LEOs) are parents too. However, it shouldn’t matter if you are a parent or not, keeping children safe should concern all of us. But, what about when there are no children present in a school zone? Shouldn’t the speed limit revert to the regular limit? According to CA Vehicle Code, it does.
School Zone Speed Limits and Restrictions
Actually, CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 22358.4, Speed Laws, provides insight into school zone laws and restrictions placed on municipalities and LEOs to enforce those laws. Before a speed limit may be changed, a traffic engineering survey must be conducted. If the survey directs that the speed limit should be 15 mph during school hours, it can only be enforced within 500 feet of the school, after signs have been posted, and “while children are going to or leaving the school, either during school hours or during the noon recess period.”
Additionally, the municipality may extend the distance out to 1000 feet from the school in a residential area when a freeway runs through a school zone with a speed limit posted at 30 mph or slower before and after the school zone with no fence, physical barrier, or gate present. However, the speed limit from 1000 feet to 500 feet from the school zone would be 25 mph, not 15 mph, which would give drivers proper time to reduce their speed. This reduced speed limit must first be approved by Caltrans when it is on a state or interstate route and Caltrans is responsible for posting the speed limit signs.
To make a reduced speed limit legal, municipalities and Caltrans must post signs at the required distance and where necessary within the zone and children must be present.
Speeding Less Than the Speed Limit
Is it possible to speed when you are doing less than the speed limit in a school zone? Of course, when weather conditions make roadways and freeways slick or slippery, it is not only unwise and illegal but can also be deadly to a child. CVC 22350, Speed Laws, makes it illegal to drive a vehicle faster than is prudent or reasonable for road conditions because of weather, visibility, or the road’s surface. Imagine driving a vehicle at just 25 mph. With perfect road conditions, it could take up to 85 feet to recognize the hazard (a child running out into the road), for your brain to send a signal to your foot to brake, and then to actually brake. Even if you have very fast reactions when you tack on slippery road conditions, you are going to hit the child. Therefore, the slower the vehicle is going, the better the odds for the child. Just slow down in a school zone, regardless of weather or other conditions.
Hire a Traffic Ticket Defender
Some LEOs may be unaware of the law or become over-zealous in their desire to “Serve and Protect” particularly when there are no children present and they ticket you for going faster than the school zone speed limit or outside the legal distance. We’ve seen speeding tickets given out on the next street over from the school with a fence in between.
We want to protect our community’s children too, but ticketing drivers when there are no children present is not how it works.
Bigger & Harman, APC has represented clients in traffic courts in Central Valley and SoCal for more than a decade. We have successfully represented more than two thousand traffic tickets in court. Call us today for a free, no obligation phone consultation, 661-349-9300. Or, you could send us an email, email@example.com. Mark, Paul, or one of our staff will contact you when the office opens. For confidential and convenient appointment set up, use our website contact form.Se habla Español 661.349.9755.