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Road Services - Neighborhood traffic safety

How to save lives...

What can you do to reduce traffic accidents and save lives?

A recent summary study of speeding complaints from homeowners living on residential streets in unincorporated King County showed that the average speed was 33.8 mph. The result adds credibility to the general claim that a majority of motorists drive over the 25 mph speed limit on residential streets. Those who exceed the speed limit come from all age groups; they are not just teenagers or commuters, but everyone alike.

What does this mean?

The average driver in unincorporated King County drives faster than they should on residential streets. Why does this happen?

  • Local residents drive faster on their local streets because they feel familiar and comfortable.
  • Outsiders use local streets as short cuts to busy arterial roads.

For children and the elderly, this can pose a special hazard.

How can you make your neighborhood street safer?

AS A DRIVER... Drive slower

Realize that speeding through residential neighborhoods will make very little, if any, difference in the total time it will take to complete your entire trip. In addition, driving at slower speeds allows you more time to react to the unexpected, such as a child darting out from behind a parked car.

  • Remember that the legal speed limit on all residential streets is 25 mph, unless otherwise posted.
  • Make a conscious effort to drive 25 mph or slower on all residential streets. Remind family members and neighbors of the speed limit.

Avoid using local streets as short cuts

The more we use residential streets as short cuts, the more we disrupt the quality of life in neighborhoods. Neighborhood cut-through traffic increases noise and pollution in residential areas and results in a greater threat to the safety of children.

Observe all the rules of the road (traffic laws)

Do not take chances even on short local trips to the shopping mall, etc. Most accidents occur close to home.

Change your driving pattern on residential streets

Learn to adopt a different attitude! You should expect the unexpected on residential streets. It may not be your fault if you have an accident, but imagine the pain you would live with if you hit a child or elderly pedestrian.

Yield to pedestrians

Pedestrians have the right-of-way at intersections whether crosswalks are painted on the street or not. Remember that it is someone's child, mother, father, brother, or sister crossing the street!

Be aware that children are the primary pedestrians on neighborhood streets and that they are the most likely victims of careless drivers. Most young children — especially those under nine years of age — have great difficulty in making sound and safe judgments about traffic dangers.

AS A PARENT... Teach your children the rules of the road

Ensure that your children know and understand the rules of the road.

Studies have shown that smaller children have difficulty in making safe judgments about traffic dangers. Do not let your children play in the street. Warn them against darting into the road after pets or toys. Teach your children to stop, look both ways, and listen before crossing streets. Make sure your children know that even though cars are supposed to stop, they may not.

Supervise your children's trip to and from school

Plan a safe walking route to school. Walk it with your child and point out areas where they should be especially careful. Check with your school district for safe walking routes. Advise the school district of unsafe walking and crossing areas for children.

Take or arrange for transport of smaller children to and from school.

Set a good example

Drive the speed limit and drive with courtesy. Do not double park. Do let children off on the correct side of the road when delivering or picking them up from school.

Ensure that your children are properly equipped to ride bicycles on local streets.

You need to equip your children with two things:

  1. The proper equipment, bright clothing and an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) approved helmet.
  2. A sound understanding of bicycle safety and the rules of the road.

Don't rush

Do not rush while driving. Organize yourself to leave a little earlier. In particular, do not rush getting children to and from school. Your urgency may transmit to them, causing them to disregard traffic safety and run headlong across the street.


Take the initiative

Let your King County Road Services staff know about problem areas along your street, such as:

  • Damaged or missing traffic signs
  • Dangerous pot-holes
  • Brush or trees that obscure driver's vision of signs, curbs, other vehicles, intersections, etc.
Talk with the King County Sheriff's Office

Consistent traffic problems, particularly speeding, should be reported to the Sheriff. Let them know when the problem is more prevalent so they can conduct more effective enforcement. Ask for occasional traffic enforcement to deter speeders.

Get involved and do your part to improve traffic safety

Establish a neighborhood traffic safety subcommittee to any homeowners association, architectural control committee, neighborhood watch organization, etc. that may exist in your area. If none of these types of associations is present in your neighborhood, establish a traffic safety committee. Once a traffic committee or subcommittee is in place, contact the Road Services Neighborhood Traffic Safety Coordinator. You can also find out about the Radar/Readerboard Program. Through this program you can use equipment for educating drivers who are speeding on your neighborhood streets. There are Radar/Readerboard cars and equipment available at all of the King County Sheriff's Office precincts.

Additional information

  • King County Traffic Engineering - signing, sight-distance 206-477-3612
  • King County Sheriff's Office - traffic enforcement 206-296-3853
  • Neighborhood traffic safety - King County Radar/Readerboard Program 206-477-3612 or local King County Sheriff's Office precinct
  • King County Neighborhood Traffic Safety Program Coordinator - King County Roads Services Division, 206-477-3612
  • Street maintenance in unincorporated King County - pot holes, brush trims, damaged signs 206-296-8100 or 1-800-527-6237

Information from the Road Services Division's website is available to people with disabilities in alternate formats upon request by calling 206-263-6482 or 711 for the TTY relay service.

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Children in a crosswalking walking home from school.
Children in a crosswalk walking home from school.

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