We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Playground speed zone enforced daily

By Steve Wallace, Times Colonist, September 16, 2011

Playground speed zones can be confusing to drivers.

Robin asked a simple question in an email to me last week: “How do we know when to obey playground speed-zone signs and how does the signage differ from the school speed zones?”

The same basic rules apply to playground speed zones as school speed zones, with two notable exceptions. First, the enforcement of playground speed zones is every day of the year without exception. Second, the time of enforcement is dawn to dusk. As with school speed zones, they are only in effect when a 30 km/h black and white regulatory sign tab is affixed to the play area speed zone.

Robin also asked why some schools display yellow diamond playground speed zone signs instead of the regular pentagon schoolhouse-shaped signs.

The answer has to do with community schools and the delegated authority of municipal and regional governments to govern these speed zones. Where there is a good chance that children will be using the school playground at all hours of the day, some school authorities have requested additional coverage of the speed zones by the placement of playground signs. This happens in many small towns and suburban areas where joint and extended use of community public property is the norm. Some school boards have an opposite view and deny public access to all school property on non-school days.

Robin also asked for clarification of crosswalks and whether the rules governing them are exact or implied. Specifically, she asked, “Is there an implied crosswalk at the end of each block?”

There is much more than an implied crosswalk at the end of each city block.

There is a legal unmarked crosswalk in all instances. Just because there are no street markings or overhead signs does not mean the crosswalk has been negated. It is still a legal crosswalk.

The best advice I can give pedestrians is to raise their arm to show intent to use the crosswalk. This action personalizes the act of crossing the street.

Always maintain eye contact with approaching drivers at a crosswalk, especially an unmarked one.

Remember that “zebra” broken-line crosswalk markings generally do not accompany intersections where traffic lights and stop signs are present. Instead, solid crosswalk lines will be in evidence at such intersections. This system is meant as an advance warning to drivers approaching a marked “zebra” crosswalk. A full stop may be required if the crosswalk is about to be or is occupied by a pedestrian at a “zebra” crossing. Crossing guards are an extra protection afforded school children. They must be obeyed in all instances.

Leanne, who is a crossing guard, writes: “Kids do unpredictable things. They suddenly run, or stop, or walk on a diagonal, or drop something or even see a friend and dash back to the side of the road that they came from.”

She is amazed at the unsafe driving habits of approaching drivers.

Among the problems she encounters each day are several unsafe behaviours. As she straddles both lanes with a stop sign displayed, some drivers will squeeze by just ahead or behind a group of crossing students. Drivers even use part of the sidewalk to get by while kids are crossing the street.

She will deliberately hold students back when several vehicles proceed through a stop sign without even slowing down in the hopes of beating the next crossing sequence.

Her message to drivers is a direct one. Stop and think how you would feel if you ever hit a kid in a crosswalk. The ramifications are horrendous. Think again of your own kids and act accordingly.

Steve Wallace is a member of the College of Teachers and the owner of Joan Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island and in the interior of B.C.

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