Q&A - Where Does a School Zone End?

Q&A ImageThere is a school near where I live, with a 30km/hr school zone. Driving one way passed the school, you encounter the School Zone sign, but after you pass the school, there is no corresponding sign showing the speed increase to 50 km/hr - despite the fact that the speed for oncoming drivers is 50km/hr and they have a Scool Zone sign on that side of the road. The next 50 km/hr  sign is about 800m further down the road, just passed a small 30k/hr zone near a small park.

So I was wondering if there is a designated length to a school zone, or whether the 30 km/hr speed limit applies until the next speed sign showing 50 km/hr - despite the fact that the speed limit on the other side of the road is 50 km/hr the whole way?


End of a School Zone

The end of the zone is at the back of the sign on the opposite side of the road. (Where the school zone starts for the traffic approaching you.) This rule is found in Division 23 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations that describes traffic control devices:

45 x 60 cm

45 x 45 cm


When used below the "School Area (Warning)" sign this tab establishes a maximum speed zone of 30 kilometres per hour on school days between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or as otherwise specified. This tab may be amended with the text "8AM 5PM SCHOOL DAYS" or other times in place of "8AM 5PM" as specified. A period of time otherwise specified must not commence later than 8 a.m. or end earlier than 5 p.m.

When used below the "Playground Area (Warning)" sign the tab establishes a 30 kilometre per hour zone from dawn to dusk daily.

In both cases, the back of the sign assembly for the opposite direction of travel terminates the 30 km/h speed zone.

Colour: Black on white background.


The importance of sign shape!

Not something you would think of necessarily, but this is why school signs (which may indicate the presence of a crosswalk often used by students, or may indicate there's a school in the general vicinity - but only changes the speed limit - typically to 30 km/h - with the addition of a black on white regulatory speed limit on a separate sign below it) are pentagonal; unique amongst road signs across Canada and the US.

This easily allows drivers to identify the conclusion of the zone, from the sign approaching the oncoming vehicles.

Playground zones apply the same logic and parallel applications for the most part, except that the PG sign is (like most warning signs) diamond shaped. But the creation of a particular related speed zone still requires an additional black on white regulatory tab of some sort (they're getting bigger and squarer these days), similarly identifiable from the back to indicate the end of the zone.

The other uniquely shaped signs are the octagonal Stop and the triangular Yield, similarly designed to be identified from the back for the benefit of the driver on the 'other' road.

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