Speed Enforcement in School Zone

Strict enforcement of speed laws in school zones is one law enforcement tool that can improve the safety for children walking and bicycling to school as well as motorists. A ‘zero tolerance’ policy for speeders in school zones and even an increase in fines for drivers who violate the posted school zone speed limit are potential approaches.

Putting It Into Practice: Double Fines for Speeders in School Zones

State of Washington

In 1997, Washington State enacted legislation that doubled the basic fine for drivers speeding in a school zone. This fine can not be waived, suspended or reduced. One-half of the revenue generated is directed into an account managed by the State’s Governor’s Highway Safety Office (the Washington Traffic Safety Commission) that is designed to enhance safety in school zones and pupil transportation. The legislature allows $1.5 million to be spent per biennium, with $1.0 million for law enforcement and $0.5 million for public education. Funds for law enforcement are available to agencies through an application process. These funds can be used to purchase equipment, such as radars, computers, patrol cars or motorcycles that improves safety in school zones or pupil transportation. The public education funds make it possible to produce and disseminate products such as public service announcements, radio and bus ads, and crossing guard equipment. The funds have also been used to provide mini-grants to support International Walk to School Day celebrations around the state and have paid for the creation and distribution of the School Administrator’s Guide to Pedestrian Safety and the School Safety Resource Kit.

Through proactive enforcement, where law enforcement officers are focusing on school zone safety, communities have seen reductions in collisions in school zones. For example, collision rates in school zones have declined by 23 percent in Bremerton, WA, and by 13 percent in Tumwater, WA.