Rate of Speed
The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office began patrol coverage in the town of Bethel in late June of 2010. When schools opened in the month of September our deputies noticed that vehicle travel on the section of roadway within 300 feet on either side of the school entrances at Telstar High School was well in excess of the Maine State law regarding rates of speed (15 MPH) for a school zone. The average flow of traffic going by the school was between 40 and 50 MPH at the beginning and end of a school day.
We have worked very hard to improve and educate drivers in and around the school by being very visible in the area at the beginning and the end of the school day. We have seen a marked improvement in compliance with the school zone rates of speed. In fact this was done with a minimal number of traffic citations (2) being issued. Verbal and written warnings as well as visibility proved to be a great deterrence to excessive speed that had been taking place.
Maine Motor Vehicle Law Title 29-A Section 2074 (1) reads as follows:
1. Rates of speed. Except when conditions or other regulations require a lower speed, the following maximum rates of speed:
A. Fifteen miles per hour when traveling in a school zone: 1) During recess; 2) When children are going to or leaving school during school opening or closing hours. For purposes of this paragraph, school opening and closing hours are one-half hour before and one-half hour after the beginning of the school day and one-half hour before and one-half hour after the end of the school day; 3) When school speed limit signs are flashing during school opening or closing hours; or 4) At other times designated by a municipal traffic ordinance that regulates town ways that are classified as local by the Department of Transportation in accordance with the federal functional classification system.
The school is currently working on acquiring and installing school zone warning flashing lights on both sides of the school entrances. A reminder, though, as defined above in 1) and 2) a 15 MPH rate of speed in a school zone does not require the presence of flashing lights. Flashing lights are in place as a warning and informational tool to remind you that you are passing through a school zone. Whether there are flashing lights or not a school zone is a school zone if any one of the above four explanations apply.
We are very pleased with the voluntary compliance by the many motorists who travel that roadway on school days and thank you for this collaborative effort in providing safe passage on our roadways.
Wayne J. Gallant