How’s a driver to know he’s entering that school zone?

The in basket: Jim Cole writes that the school zone on Sedgwick Road at Converse Avenue in South Kitsap is an unfair speed trap for those on Converse.

“While driving west on Sedgwick,  I noticed a sheriff parked in a driveway just past Converse,” he said back in late May.  “The school zone lights were flashing on Sedgwick. OK, 20 mph.

“A car pulled out of Converse and turned left towards Bethel. I noticed in my mirror the sheriff pulled out, lights on, behind the car that just turned left out of Converse. I thought to myself, I don’t think there’s flashing lights on Converse approaching the intersection.

“Later in the week,” Jim continued, “I traveled Converse and, sure enough, there is an ‘end of school zone’ sign (at the end of the school zone at the school itself) but no warning that you are approaching another school zone at Sedgwick.  The flashing lights for Sedgwick face east and west and are not visible from Converse.

“I though to myself  “If this isn’t a trap what is.  It’s certainly unfair that our citizens may be sited for a zone that is unmarked on Converse.”

The out basket: A newcomer to the area wouldn’t know about  the school zone he’s approaching when northbound on Converse, and even someone aware of the zone wouldn’t know whether the signs’ lights were flashing or not.

There’s no way of knowing why the sheriff’s deputy Jim saw made the stop. It could have been anything from expired tabs to rolling through the stop sign to peeling out dangerously to the car’s having been stolen.

I suggested to Jim that a driver would really have to step on it to be over 20 mph before reaching the end of the Sedgwick school zone, but he didn’t buy it. He tested it and at his suggestion, I did too, and I found it’s easy to be at 30 mph from a standing and turning start at Converse while still in the zone.

There used to be a comparable situation on Finn Hill Road at Rhododendron Lane in North Kitsap, near Vinland Elementary. County public works removed it at the sheriff’s office request because it would have needed some further improvement to be enforced, Doug Bear of public works said.

Anyway, here is what two law enforcement agencies most likely to be patrolling Sedgwick Road have to say about the Sedgwick zone.

From Krista Hedstrom, spokesman for Washington State Patrol in Bremerton:

“It is up to drivers to be aware of the speed limits on the roads they drive, and if they do not know, they should drive at a reasonable safe speed until they see a speed limit sign.

“Most school zones are clearly marked and most drivers are aware that they are in one – especially when yellow lights are flashing.  If a driver was stopped and they explained that they had pulled out of a side street and did not see a sign, I would take that into consideration when choosing whether or not to issue an infraction.

“That does not necessarily mean that lack of knowledge is an excuse for getting out of a ticket, but it is good information to know and can always be used to determine if there is a location that is better suited for the posting of a speed limit sign.”

From Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office: “For this specific situation, the issue of ‘speeding’ in a school zone is not enforceable.

“A law enforcement officer must witness a vehicle exceeding the posted speed limit in a school zone after the vehicle passes a school zone warning sign.

“Traffic enforcement officers in the sheriff’s office are aware of this particular intersection and the fact that the specific situation indicated above is not enforceable.  They also are aware of and remember the similar situation on NW Finn Hill Road.”

2 thoughts on “How’s a driver to know he’s entering that school zone?

  1. I am puzzled that Sedgwick Rd is marked as a “school zone”. Where is the school on Sedgwick at Converse? Converse should be marked as a school zone south of Sedgwick Rd., I agree. Sedgwick Rd should be marked as a school crossing(?) maybe as I suppose there are a number of students from Hidden Creek that use the crosswalk there. I would assume that there would be school crossing guards there??? But I really question the 20 MPH zone on Sedgwick Rd. Also I dont believe that there are any “End of School Zone” signs on Sedgwick Rd. Shouldn’t there be? I see them on Mullenix Rd after you pass Mullenix Elem.

  2. To answer one of Dave’s questions, the state says the 35 mph signs are interchangeable with ‘End of School Zone’ signs, denoting a return to the normal speed limit.

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