San Francisco may lower school zone speed limits

The city of San Francisco is considering a plan to lower speed limits in school zones to 15 mph, down from the 25 mph common throughout the city. City officials believe doing so will cut down on the number of accidents that occur to children going to and from school. Opponents feel that lowering the speed limit will further slow down already congested roads in the city's busy areas.

A 2007 state law gives local municipalities the power to reduce speed limits near schools. Currently, around 200 schools have been targeted for this lower speed limit by the committee in charge of the project. The 15 mph speed limit will apply to streets within 500 feet of approved schools.

Each school zone would need to be approved by the board in charge of the project; then, the local jurisdiction would have to adopt the changes to the speed limit. Yet, there is enough public support behind the initiative that many people believe there will be little trouble implementing the project.

The city has already set aside between $30,000 and $40,000 for the project, which estimates indicate could cost up to $361,700 to start and oversee. Planning alone could cost up to $40,000.

Currently, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has petitioned the San Francisco County Transportation Authority for the remaining funds, which will come from the city's transportation tax dollars, to pay for the project. The funding decision should be made by the end of July, and if it is approved, the project should be completed by the end of 2012.

While reducing speed limits should help reduce the frequency of accidents in school zones, nothing can stop them altogether. They can, and will, still happen. When they do, it is important for injured parties or the parents of injured children to work with an attorney to make sure their interests are protected.