School and Playground Zones

School Zones

Ah yes, school and playground zones. One of the most popular reasons for people to fail their road test. They either don’t notice the zone and go too fast, or assume there’s one when there isn’t, and are going too slowly.

It’s a great source of confusion for new drivers. School and playground zones are similar, but different. The differences are in the times and the shapes of the signs.

The 30 km/hr School zone signs are in the shape of a house. They are 30 km/hr between 8 am and 5 pm on school days only unless otherwise posted.

These are not in effect during summer holidays, winter break, spring break, etc. The exception is if it is accompanied by an obvious Summer school sign attached.

Burnaby School Zone Signs

Burnaby School Zones are now in effect from 7 am until 10 pm

Burnaby has recently 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.

school and playground zones

Playground Zones in British Columbia

Playground zone signs are in the shape of a diamond. They are in effect dawn till dusk, every day, 365 days per year:

playground zones

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. 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 thereof) of children.

Think of dusk as ‘almost dark’


Signs without Speed Tabs

If you see the playground or school sign by itself – without the 30 km tab – then the speed limit is 50 km/hr unless otherwise posted.

Or, the speed limit is whatever the speed was on the road you were on before you saw the sign.

In other words, if it doesn’t say to go 30km/hr, then you don’t have to go 30 km/hr. Although, you could always decide to slow down if you see a good reason. A good driver is a thinking driver.

playground zone sign
crosswalk ahead sign

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.

school zone

School & Playground zones video

Question About Playground/School Speed Restriction When Children On Highway Road Sign

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
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78 thoughts on “School and Playground Zones”

  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. Samuel Varghese

    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!


        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!


            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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