A new school year has started in the Walla Walla Valley -- slow day in school zones.
The speed limit in school zones when the yellow lights are flashing is 20 mph. Police officers and sheriff's deputies are patrolling the school zones and will issue tickets.
But avoiding a ticket is not the only reason to reduce your speed, nor is it the most important one.
Cautious driving in school zones is essential to keeping children from being injured. Kids are often distracted walking to and from school -- particularly when traveling in packs or focusing on their electronic devices.
Sure, the children should be paying attention and following the traffic rules, but -- kids being kids -- that doesn't always happen. An accident might occur that is not the driver's fault, but that is of little solace if a child is seriously injured or killed. Regardless of who is in the right, the adult involved will have to live with the consequences.
In addition to driving 20 mph or under, drivers should put away their cellphones. It is against the law to have a cellphone to your ear or to text while driving. It's against the law because it's dangerous. Studies show that cellphone use can be as dangerous as drinking and driving.
Yet, despite the danger, the cellphone law is too often ignored. People are in a hurry and like to multi-task.
Again, is saving a few seconds worth the life of a child?
Since 2009 five children on their way to school in Walla Walla were hit by cars. It was a wake-up call for the community. The local Safe Travels Alliance was formed in an effort to prevent accidents from happening.
The effort was a success last year. Let's keep moving forward -- but let's do it slowly and without yakking on a cellphone.