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  • Writer's pictureFrank Landrian

The Alarming State of Road Signs in Unincorporated Miami-Dade County


Dear Readers,

As I navigate the roads of unincorporated Miami-Dade County, I can't help but notice a concerning trend that has been catching my attention more frequently: the state of our road signs. It's a matter that not only affects our daily commutes but also, more importantly, poses a threat to the safety of our community, particularly in school zones.

Lately, my focus has been drawn to the discrepancies, alterations, and overall deterioration of road signs, with a particular emphasis on those pertaining to school zones. It's disheartening to see how some private schools have taken it upon themselves to tamper with school speed signs, extending the designated hours in a manner that is not only unauthorized but also potentially dangerous.

According to Florida law, the regulations concerning school zone signs are explicit. These signs are meant to regulate traffic speed during specific hours, prioritizing the safety of children during their commute to and from school. However, it has come to my attention that numerous private schools have extended these hours arbitrarily, well beyond what is legally permissible.

The Florida law regarding school zone signs clearly states the authorized hours for reduced speed limits. Contrary to what some may believe, it is not permissible to adjust these hours according to convenience. The safety of our children should never be compromised for the sake of expediency.

Furthermore, the issue extends beyond just altered signs. Many signs in the county are so deteriorated that they are practically illegible. This poses a significant hazard, especially in crucial areas like school zones, where drivers need clear and visible signage to adhere to speed limits and ensure the safety of pedestrians, particularly children.

The responsibility for maintaining safe road conditions lies with Miami-Dade County. Yet, it's evident that in this regard, like so many other infrastructure issues, there has been a significant failure to uphold this duty. Ensuring the proper upkeep of road signs is not just a matter of aesthetics but a fundamental aspect of public safety.

As members of this community, it's essential for us to raise awareness about these issues and demand accountability from the relevant authorities. We cannot afford to overlook the importance of safe road conditions, especially when it concerns the well-being of our children.

Below, I've included the relevant section of Florida law that pertains to school zone signs, highlighting the authorized hours for reduced speed limits:


316.1895 Establishment of school speed zones, enforcement; designation.—

(1)(a) The Department of Transportation, pursuant to the authority granted under s. 316.0745, shall adopt a uniform system of traffic control devices and pedestrian control devices for use on the streets and highways in the state surrounding all schools, public and private.

(b) The Department of Transportation shall compile, publish, and transmit a manual containing all specifications and requirements with respect to the system of devices established pursuant to paragraph (a) to the governing body of each county and municipality in the state, and the Department of Transportation and each county and municipality in the state shall install and maintain such traffic and pedestrian control devices in conformity with such uniform system.

(2) Upon request from the appropriate local government, the Department of Transportation shall install and maintain such traffic and pedestrian control devices on state-maintained roads as prescribed in this section for all prekindergarten early-intervention schools that receive federal funding through the Headstart program.

(3)(a) A school zone located on a state-maintained primary or secondary road shall be maintained by the Department of Transportation. However, nothing herein shall prohibit the Department of Transportation from entering into agreements with counties or municipalities whereby the local governmental entities would maintain specified school zones on state-maintained primary or secondary roads.

(b) The county shall have the responsibility to maintain a school zone located outside of any municipality and on a county road.

(c) A municipality shall have the responsibility to maintain a school zone located in a municipality.

(d) For the purposes of this section, the term “maintained” with respect to any school zone means the care and maintenance of all school zone signs, markers, traffic control devices, and pedestrian control devices.

(4)(a) A school zone maintained by a county shall be periodically inspected by the county sheriff’s office or any other qualified agent to determine whether or not the school zone is being properly maintained.

(b) A school zone maintained by a municipality shall be periodically inspected by the municipal police department or any other qualified agent to determine whether or not the school zone is being properly maintained.

(5) A school zone speed limit may not be less than 15 miles per hour except by local regulation. No school zone speed limit shall be more than 20 miles per hour in an urbanized area, as defined in s. 334.03. Such speed limit may be in force only during those times 30 minutes before, during, and 30 minutes after the periods of time when pupils are arriving at a regularly scheduled breakfast program or a regularly scheduled school session and leaving a regularly scheduled school session.

(6) Permanent signs designating school zones and school zone speed limits shall be uniform in size and color, and shall have the times during which the restrictive speed limit is enforced clearly designated thereon. Flashing beacons activated by a time clock, or other automatic device, or manually activated may be used as an alternative to posting the times during which the restrictive school speed limit is enforced. Beginning July 1, 2008, for any newly established school zone or any school zone in which the signing has been replaced, a sign stating “Speeding Fines Doubled” shall be installed within the school zone. The Department of Transportation shall establish adequate standards for the signs and flashing beacons.

(7) Portable signs designating school zones and school zone speed limits shall be uniform in size and color. Such signs shall be erected on the roadway only during those hours when pupils are arriving at and leaving regularly scheduled school sessions. The Department of Transportation shall establish adequate standards for the signs.

(8) Nothing herein shall prohibit the use of automatic traffic control devices for the control of vehicular and pedestrian traffic at school crossings.

(9) All flags, belts, apparel, and devices issued, supplied, or furnished to pupils or persons acting in the capacity of school safety patrols, special school police, or special police appointed to control and direct traffic at or near schools, when used during periods of darkness, shall be made at least in part with retroreflective materials so as to be visible at night at 300 feet to approaching motorists when viewed under lawful low-beam headlights.

(10) A person may not drive a vehicle on a roadway designated as a school zone at a speed greater than that posted in the school zone in accordance with this section. Violation of the speed limits established pursuant to this section must be cited as a moving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318.

It's time for action. Let's work together to ensure that our roads are safe for everyone, especially our children.



Sincerely,

Francisco Landrian, LCAM

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