Kids have been back to school for a weeks now, which means more kids are using crosswalks, particularly in school zones.
For the new school year, school zone cameras were installed near five Seattle schools. Roxhill, Dearborn Park, Holy Family School, Bailey-Gatzert and Eckstein Middle School. Speeding drivers will be issued $189 tickets.
According to records from the Seattle Municipal Court for 2013, 50,560 tickets were issued for speeding in a school zone. Of those, 31,466 were paid, 7,941 went unpaid, and 2,318 were cancelled or dismissed.
You would think that would be the end of the story. A perfectly good idea for trying to deter reckless driving and make our neighborhoods safer for children. Ah, but no good deed can go unpunished (or at least highly scrutinized).
Commenters on websites reporting similar initiatives across the country are up in arms that this is just a slick way to milk money from taxpayers. It’s a “stealth tax,” they say. One commenter lamented “Don’t be fooled that this is about safety, it’s about raising revenue.” That’s actually a very common theme across the Internet.
An OpEd piece in Newsday even went so far as to call the idea “immoral.”
Even if the legislation has been motivated by raising revenue and not the good deed of protecting our children, does it even matter? Anyone who thinks it’s government overreach and a sneaky way take more of their hard-earned money can do one simple thing to render it a moot point: don’t speed in school zones.
The good news is that child deaths in school zones are rare. According to NHTSA data, 44 school-aged children and teenagers between 5 and 19 years old were killed in school zones over the last 10 years. Of those, 34 were pedestrians struck by a school bus or another vehicle.
That said, there is no acceptable number of child injuries or deaths, so measures should be taken to deter people from making unsafe driving decisions.