12/09/2011: "New Blinking Warning Lights For Schools"
(SJC Sheriff's office photo)
Another set of those blinking yellow school zone warning lights has been installed. The new set is in Friday Harbor on Park Street, in an area where there are a total of four schools in the general area.
The lights are intended to warn drivers that there may be students near; that the speed limit is less than when they are on than off, and they also warn drivers that a patrol car may be in the area.
It is has been estimated that up to 40 tickets have been issued in the past for drivers who exceeded the reduced speed limit when the lights are on.
However, after the prosecutor’s office was informed that sometimes one light will come on before the other one does, the Sheriff’s office stated “Our goal isn't to write more school zone tickets, but to reduce speed in these areas when school is in session and during athletic events.”
The lights are installed at each end of a school zone, and are programmed by a computer to turn both of them on and off at set times when students are anticipated to be the area. However, like all computer controlled things, sometimes one can be on, and the other off.
A ticket for speeding is twice the normal fine, but even more expensive is it can affect one’s insurance rates. There have been reports that insurance rates have jumped dramatically as a result of a school zone ticket, and the rate can stay high from that point on.
Along with increased warning there will also be increased enforcement in this area and all school zones. However, the Sheriff’s office will not issue a warning light related speeding ticket in a school zone unless they have confirmed that the lights at both ends of a zone are operating at the same time.
And contrary to what many county drivers would seem to believe, the Island Guardian has been told that stops signs are not advisory, they really do mean “Stop.” And turn signal levers near the steering wheel are intended to be used when you turn, not just when the driver is in the mood to use it.
The lights were obtained through a grant from the Washington traffic Safety Commission, at no cost to local taxpayers and should help remind drivers there are multiple schools on Park St.