School zone

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A speed limit sign entering a school zone, along with a warning light above, in Calabasas, California SchoolZone-SpeedLimitSignAndLight.JPG
A speed limit sign entering a school zone, along with a warning light above, in Calabasas, California
A solar powered school zone sign used in New South Wales, Australia School zone flashing light warning sign.jpg
A solar powered school zone sign used in New South Wales, Australia

A school zone refers to an area on a street near a school or near a crosswalk leading to a school that has a likely presence of younger pedestrians. School zones generally have a reduced speed limit during certain hours.



Fines for speeding in school zones may be enhanced. For example, many authorities double speeding fines in school zones. In New South Wales, Australia there are increases in fines that apply in school zones, during school zone times. The most common offences that occur in a school zone also attract demerit points. This includes most parking offences, such as parking on a footpath or nature strip, double parking, disobeying a no stopping or no parking sign and stopping in a bus zone. In the United Kingdom the fine for stopping next to a school is £30.

When active

An Australian school zone sign, covered during school holidays, to denote the use of normal speeds School zone in Canberra.jpg
An Australian school zone sign, covered during school holidays, to denote the use of normal speeds

School zone speed limits are often, but not always, only applicable during posted weekday hours near the beginning and ending of school when children are likely to cross roads. In some jurisdictions, the school zone speed limit is effective at all times when school is in session, plus additional time before and after the school day. Flashing amber lights often indicate when the school zone is effective. When a school zone also has a large playground facility, it may double as a playground zone and the speed limit could be in effect longer  or even continuous. [ citation needed ]

In California, school zones are generally in effect only "when children are outside or crossing the street", [1] and usually have a speed limit of 25 mph, or 40 km/h. School zone signs are sometimes amended with the notice "When children are present" (like shown on the photo), which emphasizes its definition in the drivers' handbook.

School zones may also sometimes be in effect during school holidays, due to holiday programs that use school premises. In some locations, however, school zone signs will be locked up during school holidays so that motorists can drive to the normal speed limit.

School zones typically have speed limits between 15 and 25 mph (25 and 40 km/h).

Overtaking moving or stationary vehicles in active school zones is prohibited in some jurisdictions. [ citation needed ]


"Slow Down School" sign in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The safety of school zones depends partly on the good judgement of the children using them. Highest Attainment.jpg
"Slow Down School" sign in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The safety of school zones depends partly on the good judgement of the children using them.

In a review of the available research, the Committee for Guidance on Setting and Enforcing Speed Limits of the Transportation Research Board, part of the United States National Research Council, stated:

Studies of the effectiveness of school zone limits, however, have generally found poor driver compliance, particularly when the limits are set very low, and no relationship between pedestrian crashes and the special limits. [2]

In the Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering it was concluded that "the results of this study provide strong evidence that reducing speed limits to 30 km/h in school zones can bring significant safety benefits by reducing vehicular speeds and fatal and injury crashes." [3] Despite this there has been no conclusive figures on the effectiveness of school zones.

  1. California Drivers Handbook (section "Around Children")
  2. National Research Council (U.S.). Transportation Research Board. Committee for Guidance on Setting and Enforcing Speed Limits (1998). Managing Speed: Review of Current Practice for Setting and Enforcing Speed Limits (PDF). p. 115. ISBN   0-309-06502-X.
  3. Sun, Danyang; El-Basyouny, Karim; Ibrahim, Shewkar; Kim, Amy M. (2018-07-06). "Are school zones effective in reducing speeds and improving safety?". Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering. 45 (12): 1084–1092. doi:10.1139/cjce-2018-0060. hdl: 1807/92497 . ISSN   0315-1468.

Related Research Articles

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Traffic enforcement camera automated ticketing machine

A traffic enforcement camera is a camera which may be mounted beside or over a road or installed in an enforcement vehicle to detect motoring offenses, including speeding, vehicles going through a red traffic light, vehicles going through a toll booth without paying, unauthorized use of a bus lane, or for recording vehicles inside a congestion charge area. It may be linked to an automated ticketing system.

Traffic calming slowing or reducing vehicle traffic

Traffic calming uses physical design and other measures to improve safety for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. It has become a tool to combat speeding and other unsafe behaviours of drivers in the neighbourhoods. It aims to encourage safer, more responsible driving and potentially reduce traffic flow. Urban planners and traffic engineers have many strategies for traffic calming, including narrowed roads and speed humps. Such measures are common in Australia and Europe, but less so in North America. Traffic calming is a calque of the German word Verkehrsberuhigung – the term's first published use in English was in 1985 by Carmen Hass-Klau.

Speed bump traffic calming device

Speed bumps are the common name for a family of traffic calming devices that use vertical deflection to slow motor-vehicle traffic in order to improve safety conditions. Variations include the speed hump, speed cushion, and speed table.

Jaywalking when a pedestrian crosses a roadway where regulations do not permit doing so

Jaywalking occurs when a pedestrian walks in or crosses a roadway that has traffic, other than at a suitable crossing point, or otherwise in disregard of traffic rules. The term originated with "jay-drivers", people who drove horse-drawn carriages and automobiles on the wrong side of the road, before taking its current meaning.

A moving violation is any violation of the law committed by the driver of a vehicle while it is in motion. The term "motion" distinguishes it from other motor vehicle violations, such as paperwork violations, parking violations, or equipment violations. Moving violations often increase insurance premiums.

Traffic ticket punishment

A traffic ticket is a notice issued by a law enforcement official to a motorist or other road user, indicating that the user has violated traffic laws. Traffic tickets generally come in two forms, citing a moving violation, such as exceeding the speed limit, or a non-moving violation, such as a parking violation, with the ticket also being referred to as a parking citation, or parking ticket.

A safety camera partnership is a local multi-agency partnership between local government, police authorities, Her Majesty's Courts Service, Highways England/Welsh Government, and the National Health Service within the United Kingdom. Their aim is to enforce speed limits and red traffic lights by the use of cameras.

Many countries have adopted a penalty point or demerit point system under which a person’s driving license is cancelled or suspended based on the number of points accumulated by them over a period of time because of the traffic offences or infringements committed by them in that period. The demerit points schemes of each jurisdiction varies. These demerit schemes are usually in addition to fines or other penalties which may be imposed for a particular offence or infringement, or after a prescribed number of points have been accumulated.

Road signs in Singapore closely follow those laid down in the traffic sign regulations used in the United Kingdom, although a number of changes over the years have introduced some slight deviations that suit local road conditions. Road signs in Singapore conform to the local Highway Code under the authority of the Singapore Traffic Police.

Road signs in Norway are regulated by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, Statens vegvesen.

Road signs in the United States Road / traffic signs utilized in the United States

In the United States, road signs are, for the most part, standardized by federal regulations, most notably in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and its companion volume the Standard Highway Signs (SHS). There are no plans for adopting the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals standards.

Speed limit enforcement The action taken by appropriately empowered authorities to check that road vehicles are complying with the speed limit in force on roads and highways.

Speed limit enforcement is the effort made by appropriately empowered authorities to improve driver compliance with speed limits. Methods used include roadside speed traps set up and operated by the police and automated roadside 'speed camera' systems, which may incorporate the use of an automatic number plate recognition system. Traditionally, police officers used stopwatches to measure the time taken for a vehicle to cover a known distance. More recently, radar guns and automated in-vehicle systems have come into use.

Road speed limits in the United Kingdom

Road speed limits in the United Kingdom are used to define the maximum legal speed for vehicles using public roads in the UK. Speed limits are one of the measures available to attempt to control traffic speeds, reduce negative environmental effects of traffic, increase fuel use efficiency and satisfy local community wishes. The speed limit in each location is indicated on a nearby traffic sign or by the presence of street lighting. Signs show speed limits in miles per hour (mph) or the national speed limit (NSL) sign may be used.

Road speed limit enforcement in the United Kingdom

Road speed limit enforcement in the United Kingdom is the action taken by appropriately empowered authorities to attempt to persuade road vehicle users to comply with the speed limits in force on the UK's roads. Methods used include those for detection and prosecution of contraventions such as roadside fixed speed cameras, average speed cameras, and police-operated LIDAR speed guns or older radar speed guns. Vehicle activated signs and Community Speed Watch schemes are used to encourage compliance. Some classes of vehicles are fitted with speed limiters and intelligent speed adaptation is being trialled in some places on a voluntary basis.

30 km/h zones and the similar 20 mph zones are forms of speed management used across areas of urban roads in some jurisdictions. The nominal maximum speed limits in these zones are 30 kilometres per hour (19 mph) and 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) respectively. Although these zones do have the nominal speed limit posted, speeds are generally ensured by the use of traffic calming measures, though limits with signs and lines only are increasingly used in the UK.

Road signs in New Zealand are similar to those set by the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals. While New Zealand is not a signatory to the convention, its road signs are generally close in shape and function. New Zealand uses yellow diamond-shaped signs for warnings in common with Australia, the Americas, Ireland, Japan and Thailand. Speed limit signs are a red circle with a white background and the limitation in black, and are in kilometres per hour. There are also some signs unique to New Zealand. Road signs in New Zealand are controlled by the NZ Transport Agency and are prescribed in the Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices 2004 and set out in the Traffic Control Devices (TCD) Manual.

Road signs in Ukraine are governed by a combination of standards set out by the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, the European Union, and the Ukraine Transport and Roads Agency. Ukrainian signs are similar to the signs of non-EU post-Soviet states and are set out in 7 separate categories based on meaning; Warning, Priority, Prohibitory, Mandatory, Information, Guide, and Additional Plates.

Road signs in Australia

Road signs in Australia are regulated by each state's government, but are standardised overall throughout the country. In 1999, the National Transport Commission, or NTC, created the first set of Rules of the Road for Australia. Official road signs by standard must use the AS1744 series fonts, based on the USA's Highway Gothic typeface.

These road signs are used in France, and can also be found in some overseas territories of France.