School and Playground Zones BC – Complete 2021 Guide


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 school and playground zones in beautiful British Columbia.

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British Columbia School Zones, Playground Zones, 30 KM Zones

Jump to a section:

  1. British Columbia Official School Zone Sign
  2. What Time Are BC School Zones In Effect?
  3. Notice The Color of the Speed Tab
  4. Other Yellow Speed Signs
  5. ICBC School Zone Signs
  6. School Zone Sign Without Speed Limit
  7. Where Does The School Zone End?
  8. Burnaby School Zones (7 am – 10 pm)
  9. Playground Zones in British Columbia
  10. What Is a Playground Zone?
  11. Playground Zone Sign Without Speed Limit
  12. School & Playground Zones FAQ
  13. What is “Dusk”?
  14. Children on Highway Road Sign
  15. Do You Have To Drive 30 During Spring Break & Summer?
  16. Summer School Signs
  17. Conclusion

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 HEREOpens in a new tab.

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 GuideOpens in a new tab.

Burnaby School ZonesOpens in a new tab.

Carmen

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

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