Parents taking student safety into their own hands

SEATTLE -- Parents in one Seattle neighborhood are taking the safety of their children into their own hands instead of waiting for the city to act.

Parent Joelle Craft is thankful that most drivers spot the neon sign she regularly holds outside of Boren Elementary School asking them to slow down in the school zone.

"I started holding signs back in September and they slowed down a lot," she said.

Many families say the signs are the only way they feel they can keep their kids safe getting to and from their West Seattle school, which is located along a busy street.

The city installed school speed zone signs three years ago when high school students moved in, but this year the kids are much younger.

"(The sign) says when children are present, and unfortunately these signs are posted in a place where you won't see the children until it's really too late for you to slow down," said parent Kathleen Voss.

Parents like Craft and Voss know that speed is key to surviving a car accident, which is why they feel the homemade signs are so important.

A pedestrian has a 50 percent chance of surviving if they're hit by a car traveling 30 mph, and that chance of survival soars to 90 percent if the car is going 20 mph. It's statistics like those that have prompted parents to make even more signs.

"One of the very first things we asked was, can we get one of those flashing lights? And the answer? We hope so," Voss said.

Brian Dougherty of the Seattle Department of Transportation said the department has plans to install flashing lights by the end of the school year.

The flashing school zone beacons cost $20,000, and the city waiting on a state grant to pay for them.

"The beacons are much more effective. They provide much more clarity to drivers in terms of when the speed zone is in effect," Dougherty said.

Parents say they are committed to staying outside with their signs day in and day out until they get those beacons installed.