How school zones are decided with safety in mind - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

How school zones are decided with safety in mind

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RICHLAND, WA - With school officially back in session, school zones are also back in effect, so remember to slow down when you see those flashing lights.

Today, reporter Karly Tinsley spoke with the City of Richland to find out who decides where school zones are put.

First, when a school is built, the City and the school district look around and identify what the proper routes for kids are. Then they look at where kids have to cross major streets. They mark those areas and set up school zones which are about 300 feet on either side.

Their main priority is to protect areas where kids are crossing in unsignalized zones if it's a 30 or 35 MPH street.

Sometimes when signals are present, they can actually change school zones. Recently, the City removed a zone around Carmichael Middle School on Wellsian Way near Duportail because a signal was put in. Since it provides a higher level of protection for crossing, the 20 MPH zone is no longer necessary.

If you have a kid who walks to school and you're curious about where's the safest place for them to walk, the traffic engineer for the City of Richland says finding a safe route is as easy as going online.

"The schools, they establish and work with them to do a safe routes to school map and those maps are posted on our website for each elementary school," said John Deskins.

To find those maps, you can get onto the City's website, scroll over to Departments, down to Public Works, and then down to Traffic and Streets. Once you get there, you can click on the PDF and it will pop up all the different schools' maps so you can find yours.