Spokane drivers will have at least 30,000 reasons to ease up on the gas pedal this morning.
That’s how many students will be walking, driving, busing and perhaps even skateboarding to dozens of buildings in the Spokane Public Schools District.
“We’re asking to keep an eye out for one another,” Spokane Mayor David Condon said during a press conference Wednesday morning that also included Police Chief Craig Meidl, Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer and schools Superintendent Shelley Redinger.
In the background was Garfield Elementary School, where hundreds of students will arrive this morning.
“Please slow down for them, make sure you take some extra time,” said Condon, who noted that many private schools in the area also are open.
Schaeffer suggested that families create plans to make their homes safer, while Redinger urged drivers to be vigilant, partly because students are “so excited that they’re not always paying attention.”
It was Meidl who offered perhaps the most compelling reasons to be cautious behind the wheel – as if the well-being of 30,000 youngsters wasn’t enough: hefty fines.
Among them was the state-mandated fine for driving just 1 mph over the posted school zone limit: $214. Driving 6 mph to 10 mph faster than the speed limit boosts that ticket to $234.
Should you decide to gun it and drive 41 through a school zone (where the limit is typically 20 mph), a ticket would cost $480.
Even if you sail through without being followed by flashing red lights, the ticket could catch up to you in the mail, thanks to traffic cameras located near some schools.
“They’ve had an impact on the speeding in the school zones,” Meidl said.
More cameras could be added later.
“We’ll continue to monitor those to see how effective they are, and it will be a group decision as to whether it makes sense to expand that program,” he said.
Meidl also cautioned drivers to remain patient while following school buses – specifically to not follow too closely and refrain from passing when bus lights are flashing.
“That’s when bad things happen,” Meidl said.
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