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Cannella contest results in safe school zone legislation
safe route
Senator Anthony Cannella's new bill, SB 1151, adds additional fines to school zone violations, deterring drivers from going over the school zone speed limit and ultimately preventing more pedestrian injuries and deaths. - photo by Journal file photo

After receiving multiple entries for his “There Ought to be a Law” contest, State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) has announced the winners, while introducing a bill focusing on safer school zones.

As part of the contest, constituents throughout the district were invited to present their ideas for new legislation, with the winning ideas going on to become bills backed by Sen. Cannella. Based on the contest submissions of Natalie Rios and Wendi Salpa, high school students from Madera who wanted to create safer routes for schoolchildren, Cannella introduce Senate Bill 1151.

Sponsored by the Alliance for Community Research and Development and the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program, SB 1151 promotes safer driving in school zones by enforcing an additional fine equal to the base find violations cited in school zones.

“I am very pleased to announce Natalie and Wendi as winners for my ‘There Ought to be a Law’ contest,” said Cannella. “Both Natalie and Wendi made very valid points in their submissions about reducing the risk of accidents in high-traffic areas around campuses by implementing stricter laws.”

According to Cannella, SB 1151 adds additional fines to school zone violations, deterring drivers from going over the school zone speed limit and ultimately preventing more pedestrian injuries and deaths.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has cited California as having the nation’s highest fatality rate among child pedestrians aged 4 to 7 years old and the second highest rate among child pedestrians aged 14 years and younger. Additionally, the Federal Highway Administration reports that child pedestrians who are hit by a car traveling at 40 miles per hour have a 10 percent chance of survival, as opposed to an 85 percent survival rate when hit by a car moving at 20 miles per hour.

“Walking or biking to school should be a safe way for our children to gain regular physical activity. Unfortunately, many kids face challenges in walking or biking safely to school due to poor community design and limited bike or pedestrian infrastructure. Although we cannot build sidewalks in every community, we can find solutions to the most dangerous elements that cause injuries in and around school zones; unsafe and distracted drives,” said Genoveva Islas Hooker, program director for CCROPP. “SB 1151 will help create safe routes to and from school by increasing resources that will help build a safer environment in and around schools’ incentivizing walking or biking, while at the same time discouraging unsafe driving around school zones through a double fine for driving violations.”

The City of Turlock has also recently addressed creating safer routes for children and pedestrians biking or walking to and from schools, as the City Council approved an agreement with Sacramento engineering group, Alta Planning and Design, for the development of a Bicycle Master Plan.  According to City staff, a portion of the project includes developing a Safe Route to School Diagram and plan for each of the K-12 schools within the city. Once developed, these plans will be provided to the school district for distribution to staff, students, teachers and parents to increase student safety on their way to and from school.