School and Playground Zones BC – The Ultimate Guide (2022)

school and playground zones

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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.

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. Read more about Canada Road Signs.

spring & summer break school zones

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

School and Playground Zones – What Time Are School Zones In Effect In BC?

School and playground zones are not the same thing. 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 on this yellow and black sign. 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, or road lines and pavement markings.

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

School and Playground Zones – 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.

British Columbia School Zones, Play...
British Columbia School Zones, Playground Zones, 30 KM Zones
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.

School and Playground Zones – Where Does The School Zone End?

If you want to figure out where the school and playground zones end, 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. Don’t shoot the messenger.

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 some interesting school and playground zones. It recently (March 2021) updated their city’s school zone laws, and has shiny new signs to go with them.

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 Speed Restriction When Children On Highway Road Sign

School and Playground Zones ‘When Children On Highway’

Question: I have a question about school and playground zones. Sometimes I see 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,

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?

What’s the speed limit in a school zone after school hours?

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. And what about after school hours, like evenings and weekends?

The true story is, school and playground zones aren’t the same. 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 in school zones 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.

Playground zones are in effect every day of the year, dawn till dusk.

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.

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Carmen

Carmen became a driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, Canada and is an experienced writer, blogger, photographer, artist, philosopher, certified day dreamer and generally complicated human.

78 thoughts on “School and Playground Zones BC – The Ultimate Guide (2022)

  1. Hello! We have a playground zone with a posted 30km/hr rectangle that is yellow, not white. We have looked in the manual but can’t seem to solve the conundrum of whether it is a suggested speed or required speed. Any insight?

  2. I had a question and needed some clarification. If I am driving on a school zone area and if I have to turn right should I continue to be in school zone speed limit? Or a right turn would cancel the zone speed limit

  3. Question, if you’re near a school but there’s no school zone sign (or even if you’re going past a school) do you need to slow down?

  4. McMitchell park in POCO has 2 plaqyground signs that are visible only on the opposite side of the street. They are not visible to a driver until well after they enter the area adjacent to the park. Does a driver have to drive 30kmh even if the sign is not posted near the corner.

  5. Hi just wanna ask a question is it acceptable not to follow some maximum speed limit during winter season I’m taking a road test I’m not sure what to do thanks for the help

  6. Hi! May I ask a question?
    If it is snowing or a road wet or icy do I have to go 30 km/h on Playground zone and I can be penalized for slow driving? I’m going to have an Advanced road in two days and it’s going to be snowing heavy(

  7. “If you see the playground or school sign by itself (without the 30 km tab) then the speed limit is 50 km/hr ”
    Is it still ok to go 30km/hr just to be safe? or Will I fail for going too slow?

    1. Hi, for the road test usually you’d fail for going too slowly because it looks like you don’t know what the speed limit is.. and other drivers might be getting kinda frustrated behind you… You can always go slower if there’s a good reason.. but if there’s no good reason to go 30, then don’t!! Hope that makes sense.

  8. Hi i have a question
    There is a sign infront of school that pickup and droop off and no parking between 8-5 so can i park my car after 5 pm till before 8 am in the morning

  9. Hi Carmen. I have a road test coming up August 8th. The school zone signs are still up in the town of Hope and posted at 30 km/h. Not sure what to do. School is out for the summer and was wondering if I decide to err on the side of caution and do the 30 km/h, could I flunk the road test for doing so by driving too slow?

    1. Yes yes you can flunk for driving too slowly for sure! What’s the speed limit on the road where the school is before the school zone starts? Is it 50 km/hr? Is there summer school or summer school signs?? What I would do is just ask the examiner right Before the road test just to confirm, you are allowed to ask them that before you go and any other question too.

      1. Right on! Thank you for your incredibly quick reply! The posted speed on the road where the schools are is 50 km/h and there are no summer school signs. I was thinking of trying to contact the local school district ( Who knows if they can be contacted during summer break ) to ask if there are any school related activities going on in the district and thanks to your answer, I will ask the examiner before the road test. Thanks again. Very much appreciated! Oh, and another question.

        This is regarding pedestrians and cross walks. If you are approaching an uncontrolled intersection with no stop signs or traffic lights and you see a pedestrian enter the crosswalk on the far side of the intersection, where should you stop? Just before the crosswalk right before you enter the intersection? I am thinking you maybe shouldn’t be stopping in the middle of the intersection and blocking the road to any potential cross traffic. I hope this maybe kind of convoluted question makes sense. Those were the only two questions I had. I am pretty darn sure that everything else will be smooth sailing. And no, in case you may be wondering, that is not over confidence speaking, it is 40 plus years driving experience and months of brushing up on the Road Safety BC and ICBC rules of the road of today and reading many, many of your excellent Blogs! I had let my Class 1 BCDL of many years lapse for over 3 years, thus the requirement for a road test. Ok, enough of me rambling on and on. Thank you again!

        Randy

        1. Hi again glad you found all of this helpful I’ve been working on it more than 4 years while wondering if anyone was reading it haha.
          Did you use the search function for that question? I’m sure I wrote something about that. It’s in my ebook too which is for sale on the website all those intersection details. I don’t think you have to ask anyone if there’s any school activities going on, just keep your eyes open and remember you are always allowed to drive at whatever the hell speed you feel like is a good idea based on the circumstances … For example many small children running around near a school zone in the summer, even though the speed limit might technically be 50 km/hr, you can slow down to 30 or 40 if you think it’s a wise idea just like if you were on any other road and saw any other good reason to slow down. They just want to see that you know the rules And are using your brain to think and make common sense decisions that are smart and safe for all…. Or something like that! I’m out in the world right now but I’ll try to give you a better answer on that pedestrian question later tonight. Let me know how it goes too!!

        2. Is this the situation you’re referring to? It’s good practice to never block intersections in case an emergency vehicle needs to get through, or in the case other traffic may be able to take the opportunity to proceed if there are a lot, or very slow pedestrians. Hope that answers your question. P.S. Bring on the rambling :)

          1. Hi again and yes, that is exactly the situation that I was referring to. Thank you for taking the time and effort to post a picture! ( I would have done so but wasn’t sure how ). And maybe you shouldn’t temp me to bring on the rambling as I can resist pretty much anything but temptation! :) I actually found myself in just that exact ped. vs my car situation in town yesterday and that is exactly where I stopped. Good thing I did as they had to stop part way through the crosswalk to take a picture of one of Hopes many, many chainsaw wood carvings. Not only did they stop about 3/4 ( in my lane of course ) of the way across, but actually took a step or two back I guess because they wanted a better shot of the carving and were a bit too close. As traffic was building behind me, I finally had to resort to one of the global skills, communication, beep my horn, made eye contact, smiled and politely motioned that they were safe to continue on across the road. They smiled, waved and carried on. ( I honestly think an examiner would have been impressed.) They didn’t take my picture though. :( Tourists. Gotta love ’em. Thanks again!

            Randy

            1. Sounds like a fairytale. lol. The driving school where I worked told me not to teach people to motion for other people to go, because you could be held partly liable if they went and then were involved in some kind of collision with another road user that didn’t really see the situation in the same alignment as you if you know what I mean.. I’m not sure if that’s true and I haven’t read up on the law or read cases that have gone to court. But you can also tell other road users that you’d like them to go without motioning them… by using the language of your car (keeping it completely stopped in the correct position rather than sending a possibly mixed signal by slowly keeping the car moving, stuff like that,), and eye contact.
              And yes that is interesting. I’m sure we’ve all seen pedestrians do all kinds of things: drop their keys, bend down to pick them up and then tie their shoe lace, stop and talk their friend right in the middle, then turn around and go back the other direction, or walk backwards, and or suddenly change their speed. Always good to be extra careful around them. Sounds like you are though…!

          2. I just a bit ago wrote and posted ( thought I posted ) a sort of rambling but to the point reply, but upon checking back, I don’t see my post??? I’ll wait a bit to see if it shows up. My mouse is faulty so maybe I did a whole bunch of typing for nothing other than practice typing with it not posting. Grrrr?? I’ll keep an eye on this and if it posts, I will re ramble. :)

              1. Got it. I did a little snooping around and found my comment/s were “pending”. Now I will not only brush up on my driving skills, but also on my posting skills.:) Thanks again for all your help and very useful information! Much appreciated.

    2. I just wanted to say thank you Carmen for your blog and all the awesome info and tips. Did my road test today ( half an hour and 20 something Km. ) Whew. Anyway, passed with only one
      ‘bad” mark. A bit of a wide right turn. Seriously. I am going to try and post a pic. If this exam sheet didn’t have that B6 Wide mark on it I think I would frame it! All of your posts/comments/videos etc. helped me out immensely. Thank you again!

      1. Hey!! I think you should frame it anyway; that is excellent!! (No need for perfection 😊) Congratulations!! Enjoy, thanks for letting me know and I’m so glad the website helped. 😎😀😀 Take care,

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