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Sep-03-2013 19:28printcomments

TST Deputies to Focus Enforcement on School Zones - Drivers Reminded to use Caution

Cascade School Zone
Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office

(SALEM, Ore.) - The Marion County Sheriff's Office Traffic Safety Team wants to remind drivers that the end of summer and opening of school is right around the corner. Beginning today, drivers can expect to see children and teenagers walking and driving to and from schools.

Many children may be distracted; often with their minds on meeting their new teachers and getting back in touch with friends. Drivers are encouraged to watch for them and anticipate them crossing or running into the streets without using the crosswalks. Children who are getting out of their parent's cars in front of their schools often run into traffic without looking; so be careful and watch out for them.

During the past year, the State Legislators and County Commissioners have partnered to change the law that defines which schools qualify for school speed zones. Previously, Pre-K and Head Start schools were not technically considered "schools" when applying traffic enforcement of speed zones. Oregon law has now been changed to include them.

In mid-August, County Commissioners also drafted an ordinance to institute 20-mph speed zones around any school on a county road. They are working with City officials to include schools on county roads that are within city limits. The ordinance is being fast-tracked and is currently being fine-tuned by our Legal Department and Public Works. It will be formally adopted by the Board at an upcoming session. Schools have the option to opt out of this enforcement ordinance if they so choose.

Marion County deputies will be monitoring schools zones and enforcing traffic laws. We anticipate issuing some warnings, but citations will be issued when the situation merits it. Drivers are reminded to watch for specific school zone signs, but generally the 20mph speed limit applies between 7:00am and 5:00pm, whenever children are present or whenever flashing yellow lights are activated.

Deputy Tom Barber and his horse, Jack, were on hand this morning, greeting kids in Sublimity and offering safety tips to their parents. Photos from his morning are attached to this release.

Public Works employees have already installed 20-mph speed zone signs in front of Cascade High School, the site of a fatal crash last June. A speed-zone radar trailer has also been posted at the site to remind drivers to slow down. Drivers can expect to see other "new" speed zone signs around other schools in the county.

Drivers are also reminded to watch for school buses flashing their lights to indicate they are stopping to load or unload students. The red flashing lights require that drivers traveling in both directions stop until the lights are turned off by the bus driver.

School safety is everyone's responsibility. Parents are encouraged to talk with their kids, reinforcing pedestrian safety rules:

Never allow children under age 10 to cross streets alone. Adult supervision is essential until you are sure a child has developed safe traffic habits and judgment.

Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings, using sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

Make sure children know to cross 10 feet in front of a school bus, never behind, and to wait for adults on the same side of the street as the school bus loading or unloading zone.

Always cross at a corner, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them. Do not assume that because you can see the driver, the driver can see you.

Look left, right and left again when crossing, and keep looking as you cross. Walk, do not run, across the street.

Be a safe pedestrian around cars; watch for cars that are turning or backing up.

Parents and kids should hold hands in parking lots.

The National Safety Council has a number of additional driver safety tips on their website:

Parents, drivers and students are invited to join the Traffic Safety Team in making this school year a safe one.

News Release: Marion County Sheriff's Office

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