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Are school zones safe in Eugene and Springfield? 'Not uncommon to see cars doing 40 mph'

Laughton Elliott-DeAngelis is the Safe Routes to School Coordinator for Springfield Schools. He said it is critical to have a safety patrol program at certain schools where speeders are a problem. (SBG)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Speeding through school zones is dangerous - and it happens every day.

In Springfield, busy Harlow Road that goes right past Guy Lee Elementary, topping the list for the most sped-through school zone in Springfield.

"It's a wider, bigger, five-lane road in Springfield that a school is on. One of the only ones," said Officer Mike Massey with Springfield Police.

Massey said often times drivers will tell him they did not see the flashing lights, signs or white letters painted on the roadway.

"There's obviously distraction going on when they're driving through here," Massey said.

The speed limit on roads next to school grounds is 20 mph any time a yellow light on a sign is flashing or between 7 am. and 5 p.m. on school days.

"It's not uncommon to see cars doing 40 and 50," Massey said.

Depending on how fast you are going, a speeding ticket will cost you anywhere from $150-$300.

In a school zones, that fine could double.

It could also cost someone their life.

According to the organization Safe Kids Worldwide, in 2013, an estimated 61 children in the U.S were injured on streets every day.

That is a reality that the Springfield School District takes seriously.

All second graders at Guy Lee Elementary receive pedestrian safety education.

Laughton Elliott-DeAngelis is the Safe Routes to School Coordinator for Springfield Schools. He said it is critical to have a safety patrol program at Guy Lee Elementary. Staff members and volunteers help students cross Harlow Road starting at 8 a.m. On school days. He said their bright orange vests, schools flags and stop paddles are environmental cues. "That lets people know, 'Okay. Entering a school zone. I need to slow down and think about children and not about my commute.'"

In Eugene, Bertha Holt Elementary, Prairie Mountain School and Churchill High School are a few of the schools most prone to speeders, according to Officer Scott Dillon.

"They often times lie on people's normal commute routes, and they're through roads, so they have a lot of traffic anyway," Dillon said.

So what is the big deal about speeding through school zones?

Studies show a small increase in speed equals a big increase in risk.

For example,, a car going 20 mph needs about 60 feet to come to a complete stop, Dillon said.

A car going just 10 miles an hour faster will go nearly twice as far before stopping.

"A 20 mph collision is typically survivable," Dillon said. "But a 30 mph...a lot less so."

The Springfield School District is always looking for more parents to help students safely cross the street.

For more information, email Laughton Elliott-DeAngelis at laughton.elliott.dea@springfield.k12.or.us

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