The shocking speeds allowed in some school zones

The school zone outside Edmund Rice College operates outside the hours for most other zones. The Pedestrian Council wants school zone times and speeds to be uniform across the country. Picture: Adam McLean
The school zone outside Edmund Rice College operates outside the hours for most other zones. The Pedestrian Council wants school zone times and speeds to be uniform across the country. Picture: Adam McLean

Across the country there is an incredible 55km/h difference in the speeds people can drive through a school zone.

While in NSW the limit is a blanket 40km/h, in Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia the school zone speed is dependent on the normal speed limit of the road.

For instance, in Queensland motorists can legally shoot through a school zone at 80km/h if the normal speed limit is 110km/h.

At the low end, the school zone limit in South Australia is just 25km/h.

There are also variations on the times a school zone operates.

In South Australia, there are no set times – the zones are in force whenever children are present.

“It's utterly ridiculous and potentially lethal that a motorist can drive at the default speed limit in a school zone if he or she can't see any children,” said Pedestrian Council chair Harold Scruby said.

“It's road safety with fingers crossed.”

In the ACT school zones operate from 8am to 4pm

In NSW the zones can operate at different times.

For instance the zone outside The Illawarra Grammar School is in force from 8-9.30am and 2.30-4pm.

While at Edmund Rice College just around the corner, the zone runs from 7-8.30am and 1-3.30pm.

School zones that operate outside the standard hours are identified by red or orange signage.

With Friday being National Walk Safely to School Day Mr Scruby called for an end to the variety of school zones across the country.

“It’s completely absurd and potentially lethal,” Mr Scruby said.

“Where there's confusion, there's potential for harm – and that could be the life of a child. All jurisdictions signed the Australian Road Rules in 1999, the primary objective being the same rules throughout the nation, so confusion is minimised.

“No jurisdiction should have a speed limit in school zones higher than 40km/h, raising concerns about Victoria where the limit is 60km/h on roads with a speed limit of 80km/h and higher.”

He said the large speed variation from state to state could cause confusion for interstate motorists.

A Transport for NSW spokesman said non-standard zone times, like outside Edmund Rice College, were only be granted in exceptional circumstances, such as where a school operates significantly outside the standard school zone hours.

Centre for Road Safety executive director Bernard Carlon said the zones had been a “resounding success” since they were introduced 20 years ago.

“Crash injuries have declined dramatically and no child has died in an operating school zone for the past four years,” Mr Carlon said.

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