The Road Always Traveled By

More Effective School Zone Sign Needed on Richmond Rd.


Photo by Max Alter

One day, an overconfident, distracted teenager was driving home from football practice.

After driving to and from practice every day for four months, the concept of a school zone had completely slipped his mind, given that his drive home had always been long after school hours.

On this particular day, at 3:05 p.m., this forgetfulness would cost him.

Hurdling down Fairmount Boulevard at 44 miles per hour, this teenager drove completely unaware of the school zone he had just passed, and the officer parked in his cruiser who had watched him do it.

Since this young man had only recently received his licence, Jacob, being myself of course, was ordered to attend a court hearing to determine what privileges would be rescinded.

Only two moments stuck with me from court, because, again, I was just an overconfident, distracted teenager itching to keep my license. The first moment was when the judge said, “Your driving privileges are being suspended for 90 days,” because after all, that was what I was waiting for.

The second moment, a conversation between the judge and myself, became more significant after the hearing:

Judge: What made you forget that you were in a school zone?

Me: I had made that drive extremely often, was conditioned to the road, and made a


Judge: You didn’t see the lights blinking? Where were you looking?

Being a flustered and overconfident teenager, I quickly responded, “The road.”

The next time I drove home, I began to feel like a victim of Beachwood’s minimalistic signage.

Over the next few days, I came to learn that when taking a left turn out of the high school at the southern exit, there are no school zone lights to alert the driver of a school zone. In fact, there is a pathetically-sized sign with miniscule font stating the times at which the speed limit is reduced to 20 mph, although moving at 44 mph, it might as well not exist.

Yes, I left the high school, after going to school. I should have used common sense. But I could have also just been a random driver with a slight vision issue unaware of his/her surroundings. I admit, 44 mph is still significantly above the normal 35 mph speed limit for Fairmount, but that’s not the point.

The next time I drove home, I began to feel like a victim of Beachwood’s minimalistic signage. It felt as if I was set up for punishment, especially being that a policeman seemed to be waiting for me, keeping a close eye on the “light-less” westward side of Fairmount.

I have complete faith in the City of Beachwood and its priority of keeping us high schoolers safe, although the lack of school zone lights felt like a conscious disregard that would catch a few teenagers making a mistake. In reality, it does weed out the irresponsible and distracted teen drivers, though being one of these irresponsible and distracted teen drivers gives me a second perspective: I made a mistake.

It’s obvious that I made a mistake. However, was my mistake worthy of such a punishment? Especially if this mistake, and potentially future accidents, could be prevented with such an easy fix?

Fairmount Boulevard needs school zone lights in both directions. It would save licenses, and possibly lives.