Bill Imperiling Student and Pedestrian Safety in School Zones Passes the Senate

A bill that restricts counties and undermines local school zone public safety programs—all at a time when acute labor-driven bus service shortages are leading to increased school zone safety demands—has passed the Senate and will now go to the House Environment and Transportation Committee.

MACo opposes SB 11 – Motor Vehicles – Speed Limits – School Zones, which specifically alters the default radius within which a county may establish a school zone and implement speed monitoring systems from a half-mile to less than one-tenth of a mile. If passed, to establish a school zone beyond 500ft from a school would require a traffic engineering study which takes significant time and funding. In shrinking the current allowable and enforceable size of a school zone in all local jurisdictions, SB 11 not only forces counties to expend funds to remove existing infrastructure for school zone safety, but also restricts their ability to tailor public safety measures to fit local driving patterns.

From the MACo Testimony:

Currently, school bus services do not typically operate within the neighborhoods immediately surrounding a school and those students generally use these roadways on foot, by bike, scooter, skateboard, etc. The acute labor-driven bus service shortage has limited the availability of buses in neighborhoods directly adjacent to school zones and, therefore, the number of students on the streets around schools has significantly increased. Realistically, this bill attempts to shrink the area protected as a school zone at a time when the safety demands in this area are increasing significantly.

While the maximum radius of a half mile around a school was reinstated with an amendment, the bill requires an expensive and long-term study process for counties to go beyond 500ft.

For more on MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2023 legislative session, visit MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.