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School zone

When is a school zone not a 30 km/h speed limit?

It’s professional development day for teachers at your child’s school today. You turn down the corner of your street as you normally would, see the upcoming “school zone” sign and shrug. There’s no school for the kids today, the leisurely 42 km/h you’re rolling along at should be fine.

The officer interrupts you as you try to explain this. The cop’s not budging. Five minutes and a $196 speeding ticket later, you’re still exasperated as to the logic behind enforcing a school zone speed limit when there are no kids around.

The law, you see, doesn’t treat Pro-D days, track-and-field days and any other day where school would normally take place as a waiver to school zone speed limits. Yes, even if there isn’t a single student on school grounds at the time.

Pro-D days are still school days? Says who?

It was 2009 when a man from Victoria found himself in this kind of situation. The day was June 11, nearly summer break, and there was no evidence that any students were present at the school around 9:30 in the morning when he was tagged traveling 46 km/h by a school zone.

The man disputed the ticket, took it to court, and the court even acknowledged the only evidence it had was that school was in session at some point later that afternoon.

The judge, however, determined that a “regular school day” is defined more broadly than whether “there were students in attendance.” Under the School Act, a school day is “the days in a school year in which teachers are scheduled, in the school calendar, to be available.”

So even if every child and teacher in your school flew to Disneyland for the day as part of some interactive learning experience, the area in front of the abandoned school is still a school zone.

So how do I know if today’s a school day or not?

The judge in the 2009 case said:

I conclude from this legislation that a regular school day within the meaning of the Motor Vehicle Act … is any weekday between (the first and last day of school) other than the periods listed as Winter Vacation and Spring Vacation or the 5 listed statutory holidays.”

So next time you drive by a school zone, even if the kids are home for the day, ask yourself a few questions first. Is today a weekend? Are you outside the time range on the speed sign? Are the kids on winter or spring vacation? Is today a stat holiday? Does today fall outside of the first day of the school year and the last day of the school year?

If you answered “no” to any of the questions, it probably won’t hurt to slow down and keep under the 30 km/h limit. In fact, it might just help you avoid that speeding ticket.