SLOW DOWN! School Is Back in Session- Five Things Every Driver Should Know About Oregon's School Zone Traffic Laws

As I rode into work this morning, I noticed the normal sleepy streets of SE Portland had awakened.  These usually quiet streets were filled with hundreds of kids with tiny backpacks.  Parents and kids both were walking or riding to the first day of school with smiles on their faces both reflecting anxiety and excitement.  However drivers faces were different.  

Drivers appeared grumpy, impatient, and annoyed. The added congestion caused unexpected delays around the school, and now the drivers were going to be late.   As a result,  some drivers drove more aggressively to try and make up for the time they have lost stopping at crosswalks, having to slow down in school zones, and the added traffic congestion around schools.   It is not difficult to imagine the tragic consequences that can occur if excited kids are near roads that are occupied with frustrated drivers.  

With that said many Oregon Driver's know to slow down near kids, but may need a little reminding of the laws that they must follow in order to minimize injuring a child with a vehicle. Here is a run down of some of the basic laws in Oregon that apply near school zones or kids:

What is a School Zone?  Certain traffic laws apply differently in and out of "school zones" so it is important to know what a "school zone" is.  ORS 810.462 defines what a school zone is.   IT notes there are two types of school zones, either an area near a school, or an area near a cross walk.  School Zones are created by putting signs up.   


How Will I know I am Driving in a School Zone?  There should be signs posted around the school zone alerting you that you are near a school zone.

Is there An Automatic Speed Limit in a School Zone?  No, a school zone does not automatically have a speed limit of 20 MPH.  The 20 MPH school zone speed limit is only active during certain periods of time. 

What are the Speed limits in School Zones?  The speed limit in a school zone is 20 MPH.  However, when that speed limit is in effect depends on the type of school zone it is.  If the school zone is adjacent to the school grounds then the "posted" speed limit is in effect when a flashing light indicates when children are coming to or leaving school.   If the school zone is near a crosswalk away from school grounds the 20 MPH school zone is in effect when the school zone light is flashing or when children are present.  For more information see (ORS 811.124)

What does "when children are present mean"?  Oregon law (ORS 811.124) defines "when children are present" as when kids are waiting to cross the crosswalk or a school safety person is at the crosswalk.  

It is imperative that any driver follows these laws not only to avoid a costly ticket, but more importantly no one wants to injure or kill a child with a vehicle.  Following the law is one of the easiest way to minimize the chance that you may injure or kill a kid while you are driving.  Personal injury crashes involving children are tragic for so many reasons.  Please slow down to avoid being in one of these crashes.

If your child, or someone you know, has been involved in a traffic crash near a school, call Personal Injury Lawyer Jeremiah Ross at 503.224.1658 for your free personal injury consultation.  Portland Oregon law firm Ross Law LLC is happy to discuss any personal injury case you may have.   Please remember the law is constantly changing and please check with an attorney before relying on any of the laws cited above.