School Zones in British Columbia – 2024 Driver’s Guide

News flash: There are some new 24-hour school zones in Langley, BC. See also: Playground Zones in British Columbia.

Welcome to school zones in British Columbia

What are the school zone hours in BC?

School zone signs are in the shape of a house and are in effect 8 AM – 5 PM on school days unless otherwise posted, including posted summer school days.

Are school zones in effect during summer in BC?

Some school zones are in effect during summer in British Columbia. Those schools with summer school in session will have an obvious “summer school in session” sign attached to the school zone sign so that drivers don’t need to be confused. Otherwise, school zones are not in effect during summer, winter, spring break, or other non-school days.

School zones in British Columbia
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Summer school in session sign Burnaby, British Columbia.

What is the fine for speeding in a school zone in BC?

Speeding in a school zone will cost at least $196 to $253 in British Columbia, and comes with three driver penalty points.

MVATicket Fine Points
147(1)Speed in a school zone​$196-$253​3
​147(2)​Speed in a playground zone​​$196-$253​3
​148(1)​​Excessive speed​$368-$483​3

British Columbia School Zone Signs

More School Zone Signs British Columbia

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. The speed limit is on a sign with a white background, so we know that’s a regulation sign (speed signs on a yellow background are recommendations, not law).

School zone sign British Columbia
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School Zone Sign in British Columbia

Exclusive school zone sign shape

The school zone sign is the only sign that uses this particular shape. In other words, you’ll never see a sign with this shape, saying “Stop” or anything else on it. This is the dedicated shape of the school zone sign for British Columbia.

School Zone Sign Without Speed Limit

Sometimes people get confused when they see school zone 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.

Where Does The School Zone End?

Look for the backs of road signs – a particular shape

If you want to figure out where the school 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.

I guess it makes sense; it just feels strange to try to be searching bushy and hard-to-see areas on the opposite side of the road. I thought there would be somewhere better for my eyes to be looking, but oh well. I guess it’s a nice idea in theory.

End of School Zone British Columbia
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ICBC Learn to Drive Smart Booklet

School Zones In Burnaby – 7 am until 10 pm

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

Burnaby has some interesting school zones. It recently (March 2021) updated its 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.

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

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 the highway”.

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

Black And White Signs

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

children on highway sign
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Conclusion

School 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 psychic.

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.

Oh and one more thing: by the time your vehicle gets to the playground zone or school zone sign, your vehicle needs to be going a maximum of 30 km/hr already.

Many student drivers ask if you must slow down before you see the sign, or after you see the sign. The answer is before so that your car is going to the legal limit once your car reaches the post that the sign is on.

That’s just good to know, especially for road tests. Similarly, do not speed before you are out of the speed zone. Wait until your vehicle is actually past the end of the zone sign to increase speed.

If you are preparing for your ICBC road test, be sure to check out these popular articles: ICBC Road Test Tips for Class 5 & 7 [Instructor Gets Deep] and ICBC Road Test Class 5 vs 7 [Prepare & Conquer].

Carmen Cohoe

Carmen became a driving instructor in beautiful North Vancouver at the age of 22 due to some crazy people who agreed to hire her. After that, there was never a dull moment teaching many different folks from many different places how to drive using automatic and standard vehicles and a minivan.

81 thoughts on “School Zones in British Columbia – 2024 Driver’s Guide

  • Paddie

    where does the authority come for a “40 km h when children on highway” restricted school zone? I don’t see anythink in the Motor Vehicle Act?

    • I found this online motor vehicle act description (link at bottom):

      50 KILOMETRES PER HOUR WHEN CHILDREN ON HIGHWAY
      TAB
      (Regulatory)
      When used below the “School Area (Warning)” sign this tab
      establishes a maximum speed zone which must be observed
      whenever a child or children are on the travelled roadway or the
      shoulders, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on school days.
      When used below the “Playground Area (Warning)” sign this tab
      establishes a maximum speed zone which must be observed
      whenever a child or children are on the travelled roadway or the
      shoulders, from dawn to dusk.
      In either case, the back of the sign assembly erected for the opposite
      direction of travel designates the end of the restricted zone. The
      symbol “km/h” placed on the tab, or on a separate tab mounted
      below, indicates that the maximum speed shown is in kilometres per
      hour.
      Colour:
      Black on white reflectorized background

      https://www.th.gov.bc.ca/trafficcontrol/Motor_Vehicle_Act_&_Regs_Excerpts.pdf

  • Anthony Norris

    I recently got a speeding ticket after making a right hand turn after a stop sign and thinking I was in a 50km/h zone but the officer said I was in a play zone and it was only 30km/h. There were no signs after the right hand turn. I see that your explanation states that the speed limit resumes to 50km/h if there is no further signage to indicate you are still in the playground zone or speed indication. This is my case but I cannot find anything referencing that in the MVA. Could you assist in pointing me in the right direction for the appropriate legislation or act.

    Thanks

      • Anthony Norris

        I did not see the back of the opposing signage. I have gone back and their is an opposing sign but no signage after you turn right onto MacDonald Street. It is the intersection of Lancaster and MacDonald Rd in Comox.
        So, my question remains do I have any legal grounds to challenge the ticket based on the fact that, after I turned right and there was no signage to establish that I was still in the playground zone?
        Am I sunk or do I try my luck?

        Thanks.

        • Schools and playgrounds (BC motor vehicle act)

          147 (2) A person driving a vehicle on a highway must drive the vehicle at a rate of speed not exceeding 30 km/h when approaching or passing, between dawn and dusk, a public playground for children where signs are displayed stating a speed limit of 30 km/h, or on which the numerals “30” are prominently shown.

          It may be the case that drivers are expected to look for the back of signs for the cars coming the opposite way although there is some ambiguity as often you turn off and you are in a 50 zone. How far was the distance you travelled until you saw the back of that sign, like less than 1 block? I think you may have a case.

        • omar

          you are sunk.. cuz l failed the road test in that zone..and l had big argument with the examiner ..then about the signs..

  • Dk

    My driving test is today and my roadtest is at point grey, and there is a school zone there which says 30km/h, so do i go 30 or 50 because its summer right now and some kids still might be playing in the school zone because of the playground

    • carmenac

      Maybe 40 would be good if there are kids around. You decide. The posted speed limit regulation signs are maximums, not necessarily the speed you must go all the time.

      • H

        Thanks, my road test is today as well! one more question.. If there is a stop sign but the line is like way more infront of the sign do I stop at the line or the sign itself?? Thanks

        • carmenac

          It’s all about the Line! The front bumper should be stopped behind the white line, regardless of where the stop sign is.

  • Hope

    The school by The Surrey ICBC, do I have to go 30km during the summer? or Do I go 50km? Cause it’s not a school day & there isn’t a playground sign posted? My friend said she failed cause she didnt go 30km cause it was a playground zone according to the instructor? She took hers in the summer as well? Help?

    • carmenac

      Hi, school zones are 50 km/hr zones in summer unless it has a summer school sign posted. Playground zones are in effect every day of the year. Do not get confused as sometimes there is a school with a playground zone etc. Just read the signs instead of trying to figure out if you are at a school or a playground.

      • Rob

        It is important to distinguish between school property and school zone public roadways. Too many think that it is OK to drive at 30K on school property. As safety officer I have set the school speed limit at 5 KMH, there is no need for higher speeds. Speeds in all parking lots now need to be addressed ac common sense does not prevail.

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