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Assemblymember Marc Berman Unveils Safety Reforms to School Zones in California

Safer School Zones Act would lower speeds in school zones and set clearer timeframes when those speed limits are in place

For immediate release:
Safe School Zones Press Conference

SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) unveiled legislation at Castlemont Elementary School in Campbell to improve safety in school zones for all Californians. AB 2583 will align California with the majority of other states by using clearer and easier-to-comply-with, time-based standards for school zones speed limits, rather than “when children are present.” Additionally, the bill would lower speed limits in school zones to 20 mph or less and improve safety-oriented planning within half a mile of schools.

“I’ve heard from too many parents concerned about close calls in front of schools or, tragically, kids being hit by cars and seriously injured or even killed. We must take action to prioritize the safety of every child walking and biking to school,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman. “The Safer School Zones Act will lower speeds, increase speed limit compliance, and elevate planning for safe school zones.”

“Research shows that reducing speed limits in school zones brings significant safety benefits,” continued Assemblymember Berman. “But lowering speeds alone isn’t enough. Our current school zone policies are confusing for drivers to follow and hard for public safety officials to enforce. School zones should be safe havens for all students, parents, teachers, and school employees.”

“Streets for All is proud to work with Assemblymember Marc Berman on this urgent and lifesaving bill, as traffic violence is the #1 killer of children in California. Our school zones should be a safe haven from that violence instead of a contributor. AB 2583 will save lives by creating a better standard than the ambiguous ‘when children are present’ signs and will lower speeds all of which ultimately save the lives of children, parents, and caretakers on our roads,” said Kirsten Bladh, Associate Director of State Policy, Streets for All.


Media Feed:


Audio Feed: Opening remarks from Assemblymember Marc Berman. (4:08)


Entire news conference including remarks from (in order of appearance) Assemblymember Berman; Kirsten Bladh Streets for All, Associate Director of State Policy, Kirsten Bladh; Richard Nguyen, Campbell Union School District Trustee; Campbell Union School District Dr. Shelly Viramontez Superintendent of Campbell Union School District and Donnell Fassler, CSEA Area C Director and local school Librarian. (22:40)


Supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics - CA, AB 2583 advances policies that create safe, healthy, and equitable school zones so that all kids feel safe walking or biking to school, and are protected from speeding cars on roads designed for drivers, rather than people. Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended reducing speed limits to 20 mph or less to improve child pedestrian safety. California’s school zones policies are a national outlier. Of the 39 states that set a maximum school zone speed by statute, California is one of just nine states with a school zone speed limit greater than 20 mph. Only six other states mandate the use of “when children are present.” A time-based standard is easier for drivers to comply with because it provides a statewide, consistent, and easy-to-understand parameter to follow. “When children are present” offers no protection to teachers, parents, school employees, or any other adults who travel to and from schools. A report by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition ranked California in the top ten most dangerous states for pedestrians between 2016 to 2020.

The average risk of severe injury for a pedestrian struck by a vehicle reaches 10% at an impact speed of 16 mph and 25% at 23 mph, which is an increase of 250%. Risk of death at 15 mph is 4%, while the risk at 25 mph is 12% (a 300% increase). One out of 10 pedestrians struck by a vehicle traveling at 40 mph will survive, but 9 out of 10 pedestrians will survive when a vehicle is traveling at 20 mph. Research shows that up to 72% of children injured as pedestrians will have functional limitations 6 months after their injury.

At lower speeds, drivers can see more of their surroundings and have more time to see and react to potential hazards. A 2016 study from Safe Kids Worldwide titled “Alarming Dangers in School Zones” found, “lower speed limits also reduced the likelihood of unsafe driver behavior.” Distracted driving was more likely during afternoon pick-up and in school zones where the speed limit was more than 20 mph.