Since You Asked

Could you tell me whether Siskiyou Boulevard and Tolman Creek Road in Ashland are still considered school zones even though Bellview Elementary School is closed because of construction? The city still has 20-mph school zone signs in the area.

— Lee M., Ashland

Those signs should be coming down soon, Lee.

According to Ashland Police Sgt. Scott Schuster, the 20-mph rule applies only in areas of a functioning school. And anyone who has recently driven past Bellview Elementary School, which is in the midst of a rebuilding project, knows there aren't going to be any children soaking up the ABCs and 1-2-3s there anytime soon.

"When the school opens again the 20-mph zone will come back," said Sgt. Schuster.

The school is scheduled to reopen in 2009.

School-zone laws in Oregon have gone through iterations in recent years, which may be why you're confused, Lee.

Lawmakers modified the laws in 2005, saying the school-zone speed limits are only in effect between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on school days, unless (this is a very important "unless") there are flashing lights or children standing in a crosswalk or curb. Those flashing lights or the presence of children are notice to drivers to drive no faster than 20 mph. That means if school is in session and no children or flashing lights are in sight, you don't have to go 20 mph.

In the past, readers have asked whether the 20-mph limit should be followed during the summer. Police are quick to point out that schools often hold classes and other functions where children will be present in the summer.

Most officers will tell you to obey the 20-mph limit 365 days a year just to be safe.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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