PEMCO Insurance experts explain school zone signs and rules

Now that kids are back in school, it's time to slow down in school zones.

In Washington and Oregon, the speed limit in school zones is 20 miles per hour.

Many of those signs include the words "when children are present" right under the speed limit.

The experts at PEMCO Insurance say that additional sign is talking about kids' proximity to the road.

"So, whether they are walking along a roadway, whether they are getting ready to cross a street or whether they are actually in the crosswalk," said Erin Gross, a Territory Manager with PEMCO Insurance. "So, we're not talking about seeing kids playing in a playground behind a fence or in a classroom."

The rules also apply when the sign has a flashing light, specifies certain hours or you are within 300 feet of a marked school zone crosswalk.

Some school zone signs don't have the words saying "when children are present."

PEMCO said the Washington Department of Transportation is moving away from using those signs because people are confused about when the speed limit applies.

Washington State and Oregon have other speed laws.

For example, in areas with school or playground signs, you are required to slow down to 20 miles per hour when you pass a marked crosswalk.

"Our best advice is just slow down," said Gross. "It doesn't matter what time of year, what time of day it is. Just slow down. It's going to add just seconds to your commute time. It could potentially save you from a costly ticket and more importantly a life."

In 2012, the City of Seattle started using cameras to catch drivers who speed in school zones.

According to the city's website, there are 14 schools that have the cameras. The fine for speeding in a school zone is $234.