With the summer holidays now over and many young children starting or returning to school, it is important to keep in mind school zone safety to ensure your loved ones’ wellbeing coming into the new school year.

School Zones

Across the board in New South Wales, the speed limit in school zones is 40 kilometres per hour. This is to ensure the protection of children on their way to and from school. It is well known that this low speed reduces the risk of significant injury occurring to a child if he or she is hit by a car, and reduces the risk of an even more severe crash occurring.

This speed limit is in force every weekday that falls within the school calendar year, which are not weekends, public holidays or publicly announced school holidays. The first day for this new school year in New South Wales is 29 January 2018.

Usually, school zone speed limits operate between the hours of 8:00am to 9:30am, and from 2:30am to 4:00pm. It is important however, to keep a watchful eye around school areas to ensure that you are following each zone’s rules correctly. There is often signage around school zone areas providing notice of the speed limit and changing conditions ahead, as you approach the school zone, with many signs including flashing lights for further warning.

Tips to keep your child safe

School zone safety is not only limited to slowing down and adhering to the speed limit. There are a number of measures that can be taken to protect you and your child from suffering injury or being involved in an incident around the school zone.

  1. Drop your children off and pick them up on the school side of the road in the designated drop-off and pick-up area.
  2. Ensure your child exits the car from the footpath side door.
  3. Always give way to pedestrians.
  4. Watch for flashing lights on signage and buses, which indicate that children may be crossing nearby.
  5. Be aware of the location of school crossings.
  6. Always hold your child’s hand when walking to and from school.
  7. Plan and practice your trip to school to ensure familiarity with surroundings and school crossing areas.
  8. Talk with your children about being alert in school areas and to stop, look, listen and think before crossing any roads.

Transport NSW has released a Road Safety Fact Sheets tailored for schools to share with families and the wider school communities with information on school safety and how to open a discussion with your child about this topic. This is available in most schools and on the Transport NSW website.

Latest Calls for Reforms

In November 2017, after the fatal school car crash in Sydney’s western suburbs, the New South Wales Opposition Party called for a state-wide audit on school road safety around school zones, in particular, traffic management around schools.

It was reported that last year, more than 143,000 fines were issued for dangerous driving incidents in school zones across New South Wales. This did not just include incidences of speeding, but also included parking offences, illegal U-turns and using mobile phones while driving in a school zone.

The Opposition Party made claims that some schools around the state are lacking flashing lights and safety signals in their zones. It was suggested that more speed humps or employing traffic management staff would reduce the number of these types of incidences occurring in school zones.

Other Jurisdictions

New South Wales is not alone in their campaign for safer school zones. Tasmania and Queensland have adopted a speed limit of 40 kilometres per hour in school zones, where our counterparts in South Australia have implemented 25 kilometres per hour in school zones, at children’s crossing and when passing a school bus.

Every state around Australia has their own strategies and plans to promote school zone safety. Of the utmost importance for every jurisdiction however, is the safety of children, families and the wider school communities.

It is important that everyone driving in school zones adheres to the rules to ensure that instances of injury, and untimely deaths, become a thing of the past in our school communities.

Despite all the measures taken to try and ensure the safety of pedestrians, the reality is that accidents still happen. If you or somebody you care about has been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information, and to arrange a free, no-obligation assessment of your claim, please call Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 25 1800, or alternatively make an online enquiry.

Written by Sian-Louise Perez.

Sian-Louise Perez is a Solicitor in Ian Chipchase and Anna Tavianatos’ Practice Group. Sian-Louise’s practice has a particular focus on workers compensation claims and she is a passionate supporter of workers’ rights.