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Originally published Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Editorial: Slow down and smile, drivers — you’re in a school zone

Slow down in school zones. Seattle’s pilot project with traffic cameras should help focus speeding drivers’ attention on safety.

Seattle Times Editorial

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NEW cameras installed near some Seattle schools offer welcome tools for catching speeding drivers and refocusing their attention on pedestrian safety.

Starting Monday, drivers speeding past cameras in four Seattle school zones will automatically receive $189 speeding tickets in the mail. Harsh? Yes. But if the point of driving safely around schools is driven home, consider this pilot project a success.

The speeding tickets will not go on the driver’s record nor affect car insurance. Thank the automated cameras for that. School zone tickets issued by police officers are serious moving violations that can go on a driver’s record.

Drivers ought to go the speed limit all the time, but especially so in school zones where children are walking to and from school often in the dark and, lately, the rain.

Speed cameras free up police resources because technology does the job ordinarily done by police parked nearby with radar equipment.

There have always been school-zone speed limits. Enforcing them was another story.

Analysis from the Seattle Department of Transportation identified the most problematic areas out of more than 50 sets of flashing yellow lights in school zones across the city.

Concerns about the accuracy of cameras and adequate signs warning drivers are appropriate and should be addressed. The project ends in June. A lot may be learned from the experiment.

The most important lessons will be learned by drivers who need to just slow down.

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