Wordy Road Sign Gets Man Out of His Ticket

Seattle's Jason Canfield spent $800 to prove his point about school speed zone
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2017 2:14 PM CDT
Updated Jul 9, 2017 8:33 AM CDT

When Jason Canfield got a speeding ticket in May 2016, he didn't pull out his checkbook to pay the $234 fine: He started gathering records of national and state traffic codes to contest the charge of driving too fast in a Seattle school zone. And his efforts paid off, with a King County Superior judge tossing the camera-generated citation in May, per the Seattle Times. Canfield's winning argument centered on what he says were overly verbose road signs. He says he was driving in a 35mph zone on the day of the infraction when, just after 9am, he cruised past a K-8 school, which suddenly placed him in a 20mph zone. A speed camera caught him driving 28mph.

He argued the too-wordy signage calling for a slowdown to 20mph "when children are present" (Canfield says they weren't) or "when flashing" (referring to the warning lights) was confusing enough to slow down drivers' reaction times. Further, national standards specify only one of the two signs appear. The speed cameras are part of Seattle's participation in the national Vision Zero campaign, designed to eliminate traffic deaths. A city report shows drivers may be heeding the warnings, with a significant reduction in collisions near Seattle schools with the speed cameras installed. Canfield, who spent about $800 to fight the ticket, isn't against the initiative in principle: He has an 8-year-old daughter and says, "I'm not in favor of speeding in school zones." He just wants clearer signs. An SDOT rep tells KIRO 7, "I can't imagine ... we will reduce efforts to keep students safe anytime soon." (Read more Seattle stories.)

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