Slow down or pay up, Snoqualmie police warn school zone speed demons

As full buses and busy streets and sidewalks show,  learning has begun again for another year.

Drivers who are careless about pedestrian crosswalks or school bus stops will learn that the hard way, with a $394 ticket.

“People need to be  reminded that in a school zone, the speed limit is 20 mph,” said Snoqualmie Police Captain Steve McCulley.

Starting next week, Snoqualmie Police officers will conduct extra patrols around all of the schools in Snoqualmie, looking for school-zone speeders and drivers who pass school buses stopped to pick up children.

Because of the staggered start times at the four schools in the city, Mount Si High School, Snoqualmie Middle School, Snoqualmie and Cascade View Elementary Schools, McCulley said his department will cover the peak activity times at each building.

Officers also met with school bus drivers prior to school’s start to find out about drivers’ problem areas, where people ignore the extended stop-paddle and pass the bus anyway. McCulley said officers will follow some buses on their routes in an effort to catch and cite some of these drivers, and the Police Association purchased stop-paddle cameras for two of the buses.

“There’s no excuse for passing a school bus,” McCulley said. “It’s got red strobe lights, a stop paddle, it’s highly visible.”

In North Bend, deputies will do regular speed enforcement patrols in school zones, but Police Chief Mark Toner is also working to remind children and their parents about bicycle helmet laws.

“I’ve actually started giving warnings right now, on bicycle helmet violations,” he said. If he continues to see children riding their bikes without helmets, he says he can hand out $30 citations, but he’d prefer not to.

“I’d much rather people wore helmets through education than enforcement,” he said.

Both departments have also worked with schools to train students as school crossing guards. These orange-vested students direct vehicle and foot traffic before and after school, with some adult oversight, and they report offenders, too. The penalty for failing to obey a school crossing guard is $216.

This year, Snoqualmie Police will again teach the AAA-funded curriculum for crossing guards to students at Snoqualmie Elementary and Cascade View. About 30 students served as crossing guards last year at Cascade View, and Principal Ray Wilson expects equally enthusiastic participation this year.

“I think the kids think it’s a pretty big deal” he said. “Other students look up to them and the parents think it’s great.”

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