Local leaders wish Utah drivers were more like Arizonans, particularly when it comes to school zones.
According to a report presented Thursday to a committee of school and local government officials, Arizona has never had a fatal accident in a school zone. A team of committee members that visited Phoenix last month gave glowing reports of motorists all slowing to 15 mph or less in school zones no matter how busy the street.By contrast, several children have been killed or injured in crosswalks along the Wasatch Front since 1989.
"It sounds like we have out-of-control Utah drivers," said Salt Lake County Commissioner Randy Horiuchi, who attended the meeting of the School Traffic Safety Committee.
Because of Arizona's success, committee members want:
- Flashing lights at every school zone, rather than the few that now exist.
- Smaller zones, which allow motorists to speed up after passing the crosswalk.
- Stiffer fines for speeders - up to $1,000 for people caught going over 41 mph in the 20-mph zones.
In Arizona there are no flashing signs. Adult crossing guards place signs in the middle of the street during school hours. But committee members said Utah drivers are used to seeing flashing lights at school zones, so the state needs more of them.
Arizona also has stiff fines for infractions. Anyone caught traveling between 15 and 35 mph must pay $85. If they were traveling faster, they could pay up to $1,000 and spend time in jail.
Larry Becknell, the county's traffic engineer, said part of the reason for Arizona's success is consistency. School zones have looked the same there for nearly 40 years.
"We have three different designs for speed zones here. They have one," he said.
Horiuchi suggested the committee make any changes it can now and develop a proposal to take to state lawmakers.
"We simply can't throw an overpass at every problem," he said, referring to an overpass being built near Truman Elementary School in response to the recent death of a student who was struck by a car.