Watching for school zone speeders

Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies (from left) Dave Green, Darren Andersson and Sgt. Mike Merrill will be patrolling school zones throughout unincorporated Kitsap County starting Wednesday. - Kassie Korich/file photo 2007
Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies (from left) Dave Green, Darren Andersson and Sgt. Mike Merrill will be patrolling school zones throughout unincorporated Kitsap County starting Wednesday.
— image credit: Kassie Korich/file photo 2007

Teachers, parents and students have just days until the 2008-09 school year kicks off, but they aren’t the only ones counting down.

The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) and Bremerton Police Department (BPD) are busy preparing for area schools to again be bustling with activity, which could spell trouble.

BPD Spokesman Andy Oakley said when schoolyards are empty during the summer months, people sometimes forget to slow down and use caution in school zones when school is back in session.

“People sometimes get complacent in summer when they don’t see kids around,” Oakley said.

Both KCSO and BPD will have deputies and officers patrolling school zones to ensure the safety of pedestrians and motorists alike.

“We’re going to be out there from the first day of school to the very last day,” said Sgt. Mike Merrill, with the KCSO traffic unit.

Many schools in unincorporated Kitsap County have flashing lights to alert drivers of the 20 mph school zones, while Bremerton schools have brightly colored signs designating the reduced speed areas.

“You want to pay attention to the speed regulations, absolutely,” Oakley said.

Merrill said many motorists “just don’t pay attention” to the reduced speed school zones. He added that motorists should always be on alert while driving near a school when students are present during the day or at after-school activities.

“Obviously the most intense times are in the mornings when all the kids are getting in to school and the afternoons when leaving school,” Oakley said.

Thursdays are early release days for Central Kitsap schools while Bremerton schools have early release on Wednesdays. This means the usual afternoon traffic and congestion at the end of the school day is a little earlier those two days of the week.

Motorists caught speeding through a school zone will be issued a pretty hefty citation. Motorists traveling between 1 and 5 mph over the posted 20 mph speed limit will get a $177 citation. More than 35 mph over the limit results in a $772 fine.

Merrill said sheriff’s deputies write a lot of school zone speeding tickets throughout the academic year, but they’d “love to have to not write any tickets.”

Merrill said the Central Valley Road corridor has several schools in the area, making it heavy with pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Oakley said Perry Avenue is a high traffic area and Naval Avenue near Naval Avenue Elementary School can be problematic from time to time.

“The ones where you see the highest speed traffic would be Perry Avenue and the Naval Avenue areas,” Oakley said. “Perry Avenue is a high traffic area.”

Oakley said motorists should always keep an eye out for pedestrians and not tailgate other vehicles while driving through school zones and other areas.

“One tap of the brakes and that spells tragedy,” Oakley said.

Merrill said deputies will be present at all Kitsap County schools throughout the academic year and they hope to write fewer citations than in years past.

“Our whole goal is for everybody to gain compliance,” Merrill said.

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