School And Playground Zones BC – Complete & Easy 2021 Guide

British Columbia School And Playground Zones

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British Columbia School Zones, Playground Zones, 30 KM Zones

School and playground zones can confuse many people, especially those going for road tests during summer or winter holiday. People fail road tests for driving too slowly when they aren’t in a school zone, or, for driving too fast because they didn’t notice they were in one. Let’s talk about this.

Table of Contents

Let’s go through the various school and playground zones and road signs so that you don’t have to be confused anymore.

  • School zone signs
  • School zone hours, including summer & winter breaks & spring break
  • BC playground signs
  • BC playground zones
  • How to spot the end of school and playground zones
  • School and playground zones without speed tabs

British Columbia School Zone Sign

Here is the classic school zone sign. Notice the shape of the sign. It looks a bit like a house, and the sign has the 30 km/hr tab underneath.

spring & summer break school zones

The school zone sign is the only sign that uses this particular shape

What Time Are School Zones In Effect In BC?

School zones in British Columbia are in effect from 8 am until 5 pm unless otherwise posted. Burnaby is one example of a city that has changed their school zone hours to 7 am until 10 pm on school days.

Notice The Color Of The Speed Tab

Since the 30 km/hr sign is white and black, it’s law. In other words, 30 km/hr is the non-negotiable maximum speed limit during the posted school hours (8 am – 5 pm on school days in this case).

If hours are not posted, but the 30 km/hr tab is, then you’re to assume the hours of 8 am till 5 pm.

You may have seen these yellow speed signs

Note the difference here. The white and black speed sign is law. The speed sign with the yellow background isn’t law; it’s a good idea, but not law. Check out some more info on the road signs here, or road lines and pavement markings.

School Zone Signs as per ICBC’s Learn To Drive Smart Manual

School Zone Sign Without Speed Limit

Sometimes people get confused when they see these types of school and playground signs without a speed limit tab attached.

Simply, if there’s no speed limit attached to the sign, then the speed limit on the road you are on doesn’t change because of the sign. Your job as a driver is to read the road signs, not to be psychic.

You can always slow down if you see a good reason, but for signs without speed limits, the speed limit does not change. The speed limit is whatever the speed limit is for the road you are already on.

Where Does The School Zone End?

If you want to figure out where the zone ends, then look for the back of the sign. It’s a very particular shape. You will find it on the opposite side of the road for the traffic facing you.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this is a little bizarre, and would rather just have another sign to indicate the end of the zone. But this is just the way it is around here.

school zone

A Different Type Of School Zone In Burnaby

Burnaby School Zones Are Now in Effect From 7 am Until 10 pm

Burnaby has recently (March 2021) updated their city’s school zone laws, and signs to go with.

The new laws indicate that the school zones are in effect from 7 am until 10 pm.

This is true for all of Burnaby city, but of course, just go by the signs as you are driving.

Burnaby isn’t the first or only city to change their school zones. Vancouver also made some changes to theirs.

Playground Zones in British Columbia

What Is A Playground Zone?

A playground zone in BC is a 30 km/hr speed zone where there may be children nearby. By law, drivers must not exceed 30 km/hr during the playground zone hours. These are dawn till dusk, every day of the year.

  • Playground zone signs are found around places where there may be children playing
  • They are in the shape of a diamond
  • They are in effect dawn till dusk, every day, 365 days per year
Playground Zones speed limit

Playground Zone Sign Without Speed Limit

Technically speaking, this playground sign without a speed tab isn’t a playground zone. It’s a ‘Playground Nearby’ sign. Since there is no speed limit attached to the sign, the speed limit on the road you’re on doesn’t change.

Just be on the lookout for kids and slow down if you think you should.

School & Playground Zones FAQ

If Playground Zones Are In Effect Dawn Till Dusk – How Do I Know If It’s Dusk? Sometimes It Is Getting Dark, But I’m Not Sure If It’s Dusk

Dusk may be defined as partial darkness between day and night; the dark part of twilight.

Since there’s no sign telling us when exactly it is officially ‘dusk’ we must use judgement. If you aren’t sure, err on the side of caution, or go 40 km/hr.

  • Consider the consequences of driving 30 km/hr vs. those of driving faster.
  • Consider also the visibility in the playground zone and the presence (or obvious lack) of children.

Think Of Dusk as ‘Almost Dark’

vancouver_dusk-wide

Question About School And Playground Zones – Speed Restriction When Children On Highway Road Sign

School and Playground Zones ‘When Children On Highway’

Question: I have a question about the playground zone speed limitation. Once I was driving around a playground in Maple Ridge, and the sign says “30km/h when children on highway”.

I could see children playing inside the playground, but there’re nobody actually on the road or the shoulder, so should I drive at 30 or 50?

Black And White Signs

According to the motor vehicle act HERE

Was it a black and white (regulation, i.e. not optional) speed tab sign like this, attached to a playground sign?

You only ‘have to’ slow down to the posted speed when the child/children are on the road or shoulder in this case.

children on highway sign

Do You Have to Drive 30 km/hr During Spring Break and Summer?

Spring break, winter break, summer break, any kind of school break always causes a lot of confusion for new drivers and sometimes for experienced drivers, too.

The true story is, school zones are in effect between 8 am and 5 pm unless different days/times are posted, during school days only. This includes summer school days, which have an obvious sign.

Playground zones (the ones that actually include the 30 km/hr speed tab) are in effect every single day of the year from dawn till dusk unless otherwise posted.

Spring And Other School Breaks And School Zones

During spring break, winter break & summer break, the speed limit is the usual limit for the particular road you’re on. This may be 50 km/hr in the city unless otherwise posted, for example.

Summer School Signs in Beautiful British Columbia

These are normal school zone signs but they have an additional ‘summer school’ tab posted right onto the school zone sign in a very obvious way.

So these would be 8 am to 5 pm on summer school days unless a sign indicates something else like this one does. Most likely Monday to Friday I reckon, but you just never know. If you aren’t sure, err on the side of caution.

Conclusion

School and playground zones often perplex new drivers, especially during summer when there may be summer school, or children obviously playing at lots of different parks, playgrounds, and schools.

The thing to remember is that you’re not supposed to be physic.

Just like any other time you’re driving, your job is to pay attention to the road signs and follow their instructions. If you see an area where kids are playing but there are no speed signs, then you aren’t officially in a speed zone.

However – just like any other time you are driving – you can always slow down if you think it’s a good idea for that particular moment. It’s part of being a good defensive driver.

During summer, school zones are not in effect, unless they have an obvious ‘summer school’ tab attached. Playground zones are in effect dawn till dusk, every single day of the year, unless otherwise posted.

Reference:

ICBC Learn To Drive Smart Guide

Burnaby School Zones

By Carmen

Carmen became a driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, Canada.

78 comments

  1. WHY DID MY FRIEND FAIL HIS ROADT TEST WHEN HE WAS DRIVING ONLY 35KM/H IN PLAYGROUND ZONE (DIAMOND SHAPE) WITH NO POSTED SPEED AT 10AM? IT WAS MARKED AS A VIOLATION.

    1. There are places where you can enter a 30 km/h playground zone but never really exit it – there is just no sign on the left side. And it works the other way – you just make a few turns and suddenly you see a playground zone sign on the left side. In the test I ended up driving at 30 km/h all the way until exiting the neighborhood and passed with flying colors, but what’s the correct way of handling such situations?

      1. I’m not sure what you mean, maybe you can show me on the map where you’re talking about … whenever I’m driving I find it pretty clear to understand where these zones stop and start … let me know where you were ..!

        1. Start here: https://maps.app.goo.gl/gjviEWcT7KNvQGfQ8

          Then go uphill to the Battle St. W, take a left turn and technically it’s still a playground zone. But the fun still goes on: take the 1st right turn onto the Boundary Rd and then a left turn onto the Grandview Terrace – and with this route the playground zone still continues :-).

  2. Hi,
    I moved to BC from Calgary .. there it is a ticketable offence to PASS at anytime in a school (& possibly playground) zone EVEN if you are doing the speed limit of 30km. (I’m talking when there are 2 lanes heading same way) I found out about it b/c a friend got a ticket for that & I saw someone get one .

    Q: Is that the case here? I see people passing often, esp. in specific area & can be dangerous if we don’t see a child ..

  3. Hi,
    I moved to BC from Calgary .. there it is a ticketable offence to PASS at anytime in a school (& possibly playground) zone EVEN if you are doing the speed limit of 30km. (I’m talking when there are 2 lanes heading same way) I found out about it b/c a friend got a ticket for that & I saw someone get one .

    Q: Is that the case here? I see people passing often, esp. in specific area & can be dangerous if we don’t see a child ..

  4. hey I was wondering when you come to a sign that says 30 when kids are present is it illegal to drive 30 or is that illegal? do I have to drive 50 until I see kids asking because I failed my road test I only slowed down to 40 but they were hiding behind trees. would it be illegal to drive 30 through there!

  5. Hi Carmen,
    My son has attempted several road tests with no luck. I am quite comfortable driving with him now so I would say he’s pretty competent behind the wheel.
    Is it helpful prior to beginning a road test to let the examiner know that you have tried many times to get your N. Do they care at all if you
    experience nervousness under the gaze of an examiner?

    1. Hi!!
      Sorry to hear about that. I think they are well aware that everyone is nervous. It would be weird if someone wasn’t. I think every test lives in its own vacuum. For sure You can let them know if you like, but they still have to judge the driver based on their behaviour on the current test. There were several students when I worked at the driving school who went through the full training program and multiple instructors signed off on them being perfectly capable, (i.e. the instructor would feel fine going to sleep while that driver was driving; in theory you know) and then they failed the road test 8 or 9 times. Some people just get very nervous. So just keep trying if you are sure that’s the problem, or, you could get 1 assessment lesson from a reputable driving instructor to check their driving skills. Not sure if he’s had any lessons, but The driving they are looking for on the road test is quite specific and detailed, and can differ quite a lot from common conceptions. Even I was nervous as a driving instructor when I went to get my Class 4 license. It’s really scary when someone is watching your every move. I hope that helps..

  6. Hi, just want to see if I will be ticketed under this situation. I parked next to a school that has a sign say 15mins 8am to 5pm during school days. There is no school now, can I park there for the day?

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