BEND, OR -- Back to school happens in phases, in Central Oregon. But by the end of this week, most kids will have returned to class and that means the return of school zone speeds.
Sheila Miller, with Bend Police, says a number of school zones transitioned last year to flashing lights alerting drivers when to slow to 20 miles an hour, "Different schools have different times when kids are arriving and departing, and Wednesdays are different because school ends early and there’s just all these different, little things. So, it is a 45-minute period at the start of the school day and the end of the school day. Those are flashing, and you should see them and then we ask that, obviously, you obey the regular speed limit the rest of the time." Miller tells KBND News the idea is, "To keep traffic moving, and recognizing that there aren’t kids out when they’re in school."
Bend PD plans to increase traffic patrols around schools over the next few weeks. Those additional officers and new temporary signs are aimed at reminding people school is back in session. "Often, what it takes is seeing those visual reminders," says Miller, "I would like to think that a flashing light is a good clue. But people zone out when they drive, so seeing a bunch of cops standing there reminding you to slow down is way more effective."
A school zone speeding ticket can be costly. If you're in an area where signs say "fines double in school zones," the fine starts at $225 for between one and 10 miles over. "If you’re 11-20 miles per hour over the speed limit in a school zone, that would bump up to $325. And then faster, gets over $500," says Miller.
She also urges all drivers to stay off their phone while behind the wheel. "There’s going to be a ton more traffic, especially in these first couple weeks, as kids are going back to school. There’s kids walking, there’s kids riding bikes, a lot of kids crossing. And so, we just ask that people be prepared and look for kids at crosswalks and corners, crossing."