New school zone laws in effect

Drive slow, kids move fast

POLK COUNTY -- Obeying the speed limit just became harder for all you lead-foots out there.

The powers that be, alias the Oregon Senate, just passed a new law to clarify the "when children are present" signs in school zones.

The law went into effect July 1 and has many provisions. So attempt to follow along if you dare.

♦ If the speed limit on the road is 30 miles per hour or less, then within the school zone the speed limit is 20 miles per hour all day everyday, 24/7.

♦ If the speed limit on the road is 35 miles per hour or more, the speed limit within the school zone is 20 miles per hour when caution lights are flashing and/or during times specified on the signage.

♦ The speed limit is 20 miles per hour when a crossing marshall is present, when children are present and at all crosswalks within the school zone.

♦ The new law only allows fines to be doubled in zones where the the signage warns drivers that fines can be doubled.

♦ The law also establishes that all schools are speeds zones, both inside and outside city limits.

Dallas Police Chief Jim Harper said at the July 6 city council meeting that Dallas police would be following Salem's lead in using discretion when enforcing the new speed zone laws.

"The city wants to correct the state signs with signs of their own that say 20 miles per hour at all times of day in appropriate zones, to help clarify," City Manager Roger Jordan said.

Other cities are also looking into what signs need to be corrected to help motorists better understand the new zones.

Monmouth Police Chief Darrell Tallan said that he had spoken with an ODOT representative, who informed him that one of the three school zones in Monmouth will need to be changed.

"The zone on 16th Street in front of Ash Creek Intermediate we will have to make a change to. We will be enforcing that zone as we always have in the past, until the signage is updated," Tallan said.

The other two school zones, one on Hwy 51 at Main Street and Jefferson and the other at the intersection of Hwy 99 and Church, will not be changed. Those two zones will be enforced as they always have been.

Independence still has not determined which of its school zones needs to be updated.

"At this point we are going to have the Traffic Safety Commission look at all the zones and report back to the city manager about what changes need to be made," Independence Police Chief Vern Wells said.

In the meantime, he added, he is telling his officers not to enforce the law until the signage is correct.

"We will probably have the new signage in place by the time school starts in the fall," Wells said.

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