Some Carmel residents want city to consider modifying school zone hours
The speed limit is 25 mph from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Carmel school zones, but some drivers think the hours are too long because they include times when students and teenagers aren’t typically out crossing the streets. Carmel city officials, however, have been hesitant to change school zone laws.
Sean Shepherd, who works in Carmel and recently lived near a Carmel school, said he lower school zone speed limits should apply during pick up and drop off times, not in the middle of the day when there are no children outside the building.
“Ideally, digital signage that could be adjusted for time of day or special events could be used,” he said. “It’s kind of ridiculous to have police officers enforcing agonizingly low limits when there is no real increased jeopardy of harm to others.”
Mervyn Cohen, a Carmel resident, said he’s contacted the Carmel City Council to ask it to reconsider the 12-hour school zones.
“I have long been frustrated by speed limits outside schools,” he said. “When there is school activity, driving slowly makes sense. When one has to slow down and there is no traffic entering or leaving the school, the speed limit is frustrating.”
Cohen has suggested electric flashing yellow lights that are only active during the busiest hours, similar to what is done in Marion County.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard declined to take a position on whether school zones should be changed. City Councilors said they’ve been contacted about the matter but no legislation has been proposed. Some councilors said they aren’t convinced there’s a problem with the current school zone hours.
“I would need convincing to raise speeds limits,” councilor Bruce Kimball said. “People out on foot and bicycling appears to be growing.”
Councilor Ron Carter said the school zone hours last until 7 p.m. because athletic fields and playgrounds can be busy in the early evening, which creates a need for slower speeds.
“That is the time of day when we have young people moving to and from those spaces in an unsupervised manner,” he said. “In fact, that is the time of day when kids are most vulnerable to the traffic.”
Councilor Laura Campbell said residents in districts other than hers have raised some interesting points, but she’s not sure if there is a problem.
“I haven’t heard from residents in my district about issues or concerns with speed limits, and from a personal standpoint, I am satisfied with the general speed limits in Carmel but would consider looking into the school zone speed limits,” she said.
Carter said he’s open to looking at the matter. He said there could be a possibility to not have the lower speed limits during the middle of the day when most students are in class, but even then he said the ordinance would need to accomodate class schedules and would vary depending on types of schools with different grade levels.
“I don’t have a problem myself with the speed limits,” he said. “But I could be comfortable with some modifications.”
HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT TAKE?
Starting Speed: 35 mph
Slower Speed: 25 mph
Distance Traveled: 1 mile
Time Added to Trip: 40 seconds