School zone signSchool is finally back in session. For most kids, summer vacation seems to pass in the blink of an eye, but for many adults, the kids returning to school can be a relief. We all love our kids, but often trying to arrange day-long child care or methods of keeping them entertained can be taxing. Along with the return to school comes all of those back-to-school expenses that seem to continually increase such as school clothes and myriad supplies. Another expense that you can count on if rushing to get the kids to school on time is a very expensive speeding ticket. Over the course of the summer, it’s easy to forget about the existence of school zones and the rapid drop in speed limits that they present. It makes it all too easy to get used to ignoring these significantly reduced speed limits if you often travel through an area or areas that contain a school zone. Although school zone speed limits may only be in effect at certain times of the day and during a certain time of the year, the times that they are enforced are generally times of high traffic. As a result, they offer police officers tremendous opportunities to stage speed traps for those of us that don’t realize school has started again.

Regrettably, various law enforcement agencies frequently take advantage of this fact by setting up speed traps in these areas just as school starts. While many people are still trying to get back into the routine of getting their kids to school on time or traversing through school zones to get to work, cops and the municipalities that they represent take advantage of the renewed opportunities to meet their ticket quotas and profit off of those who exceed the speed limit in school zones.

Granted, a reduction in speed limits when in these makes sense. Children frequently are oblivious to the inherent dangers that a moving vehicle presents to their safety. As such, we as drivers need to be more cognizant of their presence and use greater caution around schools, parks, or other places that children tend to congregate. The financial ramifications, however, of speeding in these zones can be grossly inflated as law enforcement rapaciously pursues anyone going even slightly over the reduced speed limit.

Additionally, the law presumes that you have your eyes glued to the speedometer and not watching out for the children the law is supposed to be protecting. Unless you manage to use cruise control, it is very easy to go slightly over (sometimes under) the speed limit. When we are driving, it’s because we have an agenda to accomplish which makes it much more likely that we may be going a bit faster than we should. This same agenda can cause us to become somewhat distracted to the point that we are not even aware that we have entered a school zone. This is probably especially true if that agenda amounts to quite a long “to-do” list. This distract may cause you to may not be speeding excessively, but in Miami-Dade County, you most likely know. Sure, police agencies state that they do not have ticket quotas, but if you analyze the way they target speeders or those who commit other traffic violations, it makes those claims rather suspect. These quotas are in place for a number of reasons, and not just the canned response of “public safety”. The more tickets a cop writes, the better he looks to the boss when it comes time for a promotion. The more tickets written by any particular agency results in greater funding to that agency – funds generated by the fines these tickets bring in. Let’s not forget the court system that also profits off of its share of these fines. And what is the quickest, easiest way for cops to generate these funds? Speed traps, of course. To make matters worse, in some South Florida counties such as Broward County, the amount of the fines levied for speeding in a school zone are double that which you would pay for the same violation in other counties. The enticement that double fines create is surely a siren’s song, drawing cops into school zones like the sirens’ songs in Homer’s Odyssey. Unfortunately the only the ships being dashed upon the rocks are those drivers unfortunate enough to get stopped for speeding in these areas.

One of the tricky things about driving through a school speed zone is even if you are attempting to slow down you can still get a speeding ticket. Cops have  you in their radar sights as you approach the speed zone, so unless you are constantly monitoring your speedometer and come down hard on your brakes, you are still likely to get the speeding ticket even if you are only slightly over the speed limit. The fact that braking suddenly in itself poses potential harm to yourself or others seems not to be a factor that the cop considers.

I think it is fair to say that most of us do try to comply with the speed limit in school zones. No one wants to injure a child, however, even when it is obvious to others that we are attempting to obey this particular traffic law, Miami-Dade cops still write speeding tickets to those of us who don’t slow down quite soon enough.

As I stated earlier, there are great reasons to have lower speed limits in school zones and other places where you frequently find children. These speed limits are in place for the most honorable of reasons, but no matter how well-intentioned they may be, many times the cops who enforce them fail to use good judgment. They often see even the slightest infraction as a reason to write the driver a very expensive speeding ticket. They do not take into account schools that are situation on busy streets, and they generally do not acknowledge that they witnessed the driver attempting to achieve the correct speed limit by a matter of degrees. There are those drivers who don’t attempt to slow down or simply tap their brakes thinking that will keep them from getting pulled over. Police officers should use a little more discretion when choosing their target and pull over this kind of driver – not the one who attempting to abide by the law.

One way to avoid getting a school zone speeding ticket is to start to slow down when you first recognize that you are approaching a school zone. Once you have done so, keep an eye out specifically for the signs that denote that you are entering the “zone” and be prepared to adjust your speed even further. Also be aware of school bus stops in the area. Passing one can result in another expensive traffic ticket. The methods that police officers use can be sneaky and result in keeping the wheels of the traffic ticket machine well-oiled. As a driver, you are usually at a disadvantage, so hiring a good traffic ticket attorney can help to level the playing field. If you get a school zone speeding ticket or a traffic ticket for any kind of violation in Miami-Dade, give the Traffic Ticket Team a call at 954-967-9888 for a free consultation.