SLC gets ready for new school year with improvements to school zones

SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City welcomes in the new school year with innovative lights, signs and paints to bolster school zone safety.

There are 1,483 school zone areas in Salt Lake City, and Tuesday crews finished painting and refreshing the last one – getting the city ready just in time for the new school year.

It may look like your everyday white paint, but the paint used in school zones is different.

“(City officials) have been looking at better paint,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Spokesman Paul Murphy. “Paint that’s more visible, more reflective.”

What makes the paint so special? Tiny glass beads that shine during the day and glow when your headlights hit it at night.

“So people can see during the early mornings and during the nights, that there could be students crossing in the area,” said Murphy.

Crews show up, lay out giant metal stencils, spray a few coats of paint and then finish it off with those little glass beads -- Using a whopping 15-thousand gallons of paint every year just in Salt Lake City school zones.

“School crosswalks and the big emblems, those do get repainted every year because it’s absolutely critical the kids arrive to school safe,” Murphy said.

Add in some flashing lights, and the city is school zone ready.

“We all drive semi-consciously and if suddenly I see flashing lights or giant letters that say school, I’m like oh my gosh I need to slow down, I don’t want to hit a student,” said Murphy.

It doesn’t take long to get all of the school areas prepped, but for Salt Lake City, school zone safety is a year-round job.

“The fact that they’re always looking for new ways to use technology, to use paint, to use signs in different ways to make sure kids are safe, it’s just another effort to make sure they do truly arrive at school safely,” Murphy said.

Yet, regardless of how many emblems they have painted, signs they have posted and flashers they add, the city wants drivers, parents and students to be cognizant and safe this school year.

“If you see the signs, slow down, it’s 20 miles per hour. Not only are you putting kids’ lives in danger, you’re also risking yourself of getting a very, very hefty fine,” Murphy said.