the reminder came in the form of a traffic citation.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
During a two-week period that coincided with the start of the school year, the Portland Police Bureau issued well over 1,100 citations to people who violated traffic laws in school zones.
According to PPB Sgt. Tim Sessions, during the first day of “Operation Safe School Return,” photo radar units nabbed 400 speeding motor vehicle operators. After the first week, the number went up to over 800 (word spread fast apparently, because he said by the second week that number went down to 75). At the end of the two week mission, the PPB had issued 1,193 citations.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” said Sgt. Sessions in a phone interview this morning. “People don’t remember that school is starting,” he said. “It’s like when it starts raining and the first thing you should do is slow down because the roads are slick, but people forget.”
Sgt. Sessions said the mission included about 15 schools throughout the Portland area. The schools chosen for heightened enforcement were selected through a variety of measures including: a database of citizen complaints provided by the Bureau of Transportation (PBOT); information gleaned from parents and principals by school resource officers; and from the PPB’s own list of known traffic safety problems on “busy streets.”
Officers were especially busy, Sessions said, around schools on major arterials in outer east Portland. He specifically mentioned schools near SE 148th and Division, SE 109th and Stark, and two schools on NE Glisan — one at 125th and other at 153rd. “Even with the flashing beacons and kids and parents walking on the sidewalk,” he said, “People just disregard that.” Speeding and unsafe driving is especially bad on streets where the school isn’t visible from the busy street.
PBOT is an active partner with the PPB in these missions. On their website yesterday, PBOT listed several back-to-school traffic safety tips:
- If you’re driving, obey the 20 mph speed limit in school zones.
- Be vigilant for and courteous to children crossing the street.
- If you’re a parent, consider walking or biking to school with your students to reduce congestion, improve safety and provide young people with needed physical activity.
On that last tip, PBOT forgot to mention that if you’re riding a bicycle you’re also much less likely to get a speeding ticket.