Most kids go back to school on Monday 30 January, and as school zones become active again, Australia’s leading pedestrian safety advocate says the differing school zone rules are too confusing for drivers and potentially hazardous for children. School zone regulations – such as speed limits and operational times – vary depending on where you are, even within the same state. Harold Scruby, Chairman and CEO of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, is calling for a standardised system throughout the country.
“All school zones should be the same speed, and at the same standard times, no matter where you are. There are too many different rules - some areas have different school zone speed limits for different roads, others have different operational times and even variable times determined by local council. One of the worst examples is SA, where admirably it's 25 km/h, but with the proviso "when children are about", meaning drivers can travel at the default speed limit unless they see children. Some states even have 60 km/h schoolzones in rural areas. Inconsistency causes confusion which can lead to trauma. In most cases where trauma occurs in school zones, drivers don't see children until it's too late. So it is vital that we slow down when travelling through a school zone, because we risk the lives and limbs of our greatest assets: our children. Additionally, drivers should also employ technology like a good GPS to help them know when they are approaching a school zone,” Mr Scruby said.
Wendy Hammond, general manager of Navman Australia & New Zealand, says that keeping children safe should be everyone’s number one aim.
“Making drivers slow down around schools can help with critical reaction times,” she says. “Children can be unpredictable, and they are small and often difficult to see, so it is crucial drivers know when they are in school zones so they have plenty of time to brake if they need. In our research, 50 per cent of respondents* admitted to missing the lower speed limits because they forgot or were unaware they were in a school zone. Breaking the law could see you hit with hefty fines of up to $3740 and even have your licence suspended, but even worse putting children in danger, all for a simple moment of loss of focus.
“Don’t risk it, make sure you are always aware of school zones by using a Navman GPS. All our devices have timed school zone alerts – and even spoken alerts on the Navman My Series range – so drivers will always know when they are in an operational school zone, and these alerts have also been shown to help drivers re-focus on their environment,**” she said.
Navman invests in the right technology to ensure drivers are alertedto school zones whenever and wherever they are in the country. Here are some of its examples of how varied the speed limits and penalties can be around the country:
- South Australia has the strictest school zone speed limits, with 25km/h speed limits and school zones in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the year when there are children present.
- ACT has the harshest penalties for breaking school zone speed limit by a few kilometres, with fines of $257 and three demerit points for driving one to 15km/h over limit; by comparison of the most lenient state is Western Australia, with fines from $100 for exceeding the speed limit less than 9km/h (but no demerit points taken).
- The toughest states for speed demons is a tie between NSW and QLD: in NSW it will cost drivers a whopping $3740 and 7 demerit points for going more than 45km/h over the limit in a Class C vehicle; in Queensland it will cost slightly less - $1,137 - but 8 demerit points and 6 month suspension for driving more than 40km/h over the speed limit - and double demerits if it is your second offence in 12 months! In comparison, speed demons get off relatively lightly in Victoria, with $777 fines and 8 demerit points for driving over 45km/h.
- Drivers will want to pay attention in Tasmania as it is the state with the most variable speed zone times - variable electronic school speed signs show times determined by each school community.