Slowing it Down

City of Sandpoint lowers the school zone speed limit to 15 mph

Casey Reid and Maren Davidson

 In late August, the city of Sandpoint painted visible signs on the roads at the beginning of all school zones, indicating a new speed limit. As of recently, all speed limits in the school zones of Sandpoint were reduced from 20 mph to only 15. This speed limit is in effect Monday-Friday, 7:30am -3:30pm.

Many were confused by this sudden change to the speed limit. Steven Chamberlain, a lieutenant at the Sandpoint Police department, described the change in speed limits as more of a precautionary measure “The goal was not to be reactionary and wait for accidents to happen but to be proactive, and reduce crashes before they happen”. Chamberlain stated how a 5 mile per hour decrease is not significant enough to warrant going faster, for the short length of the school zones.

Chamberlain’s main concern was also for the pedestrians, walking to and from school and

Maren Davidson

work. “Children’s safety is obviously a huge priority for the city and for the police department, and we decided we wanted people to slow down even further so they have more reactionary time so that our kids are safe within our community back and forth from school.”

Violating the speed limit of 15 miles per hour, if ticketed, comes with a hefty minimum $116 fine and court fees. The price will also go up incrementally the higher your driving goes above the speed limit. Driving 15 mph instead of the original 20 mph for half a mile will only slow you down by 30 seconds. Perhaps it is worth it to leave 30 seconds earlier for those considering speeding to school, and with 2 to 3 police officers lining the road, enforcing this new speed limit and other laws, it’s wise to stick to the speed limit.

When asked about the effects seen so far within the decreasing of speed, Chamberlain replied that there is no evidence that the speed limit is positively affecting the city, as there

Casey Reid

isn’t really a direct number of statistics yet accumulated. Since this reduction of speed is precautionary, there isn’t any data before to compare it to.

The most drastic causes of pedestrian accidents in school zones are, negligent drivers, distracted drivers, and distracted pedestrians. One way to mitigate the potential for accidents with these types of drivers and pedestrians, which is almost everyone at one point, is a reduction of a speed limit. That way each one of us playing a part in the chances of accidents have a better time to react. The police department and the City of Sandpoint want for their community, keeping our children and adults safe.