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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.

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 pedestrians. School zones generally have a reduced speed limit during certain hours.

Contents

Fines

Fines for speeding in school zones may be enhanced. For example, many authorities double speeding fines in school zones.

When effective

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 continuously.

In California, school zones are in effect only if children are present, and usually have a speed limit of 25 mph, or 40 km/h.

School zones may also sometimes be in effect during school holidays, due to holiday programmes 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.

Effectiveness of zones

There are suggestions that school zones may not be effective in reducing traffic speeds or in reducing road casualties. 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: [1]

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

Notes

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