Go to any department store, browse through the advertising inserts in the R-J and watch a few hours of prime-time television and you know what time of year it is.
It’s back-to-school time.
And while that means thousands of parents are going to be excited that their youngsters won’t be hanging around the house all day, it also means thousands more of us are going to have to be extra vigilant when we drive to and from work on the daily commute.
School zones will come alive again with flashing lights and 15 mph speed limits that will slow traffic to a crawl and test the patience of those who are running late.
For most schools, classes will begin next week, but it isn’t too early to make mental notes on the drive as to where the school zones are.
Rest assured that the valley’s police agencies are going to be trolling the school zones for speeders.
I called the Clark County School District to find out if there are any new school zones out there that motorists should be aware of, and the response surprised me.
The district has nothing to do with establishing school zones. It’s all up to the municipalities in which the schools reside. Clark County and the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson haven’t indicated the presence of any new zones so motorists, instead, can concentrate on the ones we know and love.
Warrior readers frequently ask questions about school zone conduct.
Here’s the most common one:
“The school zone in my neighborhood says, ‘School zone. Speed limit 25 mph when children are present.’ Does that apply only during school hours?”
I bounced the question off Nicole Santero, a spokeswoman for the district, and trooper Loy Hixson of the Nevada Highway Patrol. Their answers were almost exactly the same.
School zone signs apply even after the hours when classes presumably are out of session when they use that “when children are present” wording.
I’m not crazy about the wording for another reason: Some pedestrians near schools probably aren’t children, yet I still feel compelled to slow down for them.
“People should slow down even outside of traditional school hours for a few reasons,” Santero said. “Many of our schools are adjacent to parks, and people often congregate around parks even when school isn’t in session.
“There are also sports and other school events going on at the school after hours, so it’s a good idea to slow down,” she said.
“It’s better to err on the side of caution,” added Hixson. “There’s nothing negative about taking a little bit of extra time. It’s easier to save a life than it is to bring one back. I tell people to drive with the same caution they would use if it was your child or your family member walking in the area.”
So I’ll drop this note into the school district’s suggestion box — change the signs to say, “School zone. Speed limit 25 mph when pedestrians are present.”
Santero said the most frequently abused school zones in the valley are the ones on busy streets where the speed limit dips quickly from 35 or 45 mph to 15 or 25.
She cited West Desert Inn Road, between Arville Street and Decatur Boulevard, home of Cashman Middle School. Another busy street with a zone: around North Eastern Avenue and Ogden Avenue, near Sunrise Acres Elementary School and Martin Middle School.
And another: North Martin Luther King Boulevard near West Carey Avenue, home to Booker Elementary School.
And from another Warrior reader, here’s another suggestion I received via phone rant: Parents, please teach your kids proper pedestrian behavior when they use the crosswalks. Nothing aggravates motorists more than kids who spread out their group and saunter across the street knowing that they are blocking traffic.
Yes, you have the right of way in the crosswalk. Yes, we’re braking and waiting for you. But give a little courtesy to the motorists and show us a little of that youthful energy when you cross the street. Your good behavior will prevent road rage.
Not long ago, Warrior reader Ali asked when the East Sahara Avenue bridge over the Las Vegas Wash at the Desert Rose Golf Course would be open.
It’s open! As of Saturday.
But the asterisk is that only two of four lanes are usable. Until the flood-control project that involved lengthening the bridge is complete, there will be only one lane of traffic in each direction.
MORE BRIDGES OPEN
The Arizona Department of Transportation announced last week that three bridges in the Virgin River Gorge have been completed, and traffic zones on Interstate 15 in Arizona have been removed.
There’s still one more bridge — the second one in the canyon as you arrive from Nevada — that needs major work and will have a construction zone through 2016. The girders, deck and railings will be completely rebuilt at the bridge at Milepost 16, about 20 miles south of St. George, Utah.
Now if only we could get that 26-mile stretch of I-15 in Nevada near Glendale and Moapa done. It’s scheduled for completion in November.
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