School zones should have same road rules nationally: CEO

Students taking part in the walk to school program.
Students taking part in the walk to school program. Stuart Cumming

"ABSURD" is what Australia's varying school zones are being called.

Pedestrian Council CEO Harold Scruby said the range of speeds in a school zone are putting children's lives in jeopardy.

The speed limits range from a blanket 25km/h when children are present in South Australia to as high as 80km/h in Queensland on roads where the original limit is 110km/h.

NSW is the only place in the world where illegal and dangerous parking also incurs two demerit points.

Driving offences in school zones attract penalties 30% more expensive than the normal penalties (not incurred in school zones).

Mr Scruby also congratulated NSW where zones are consistently 40km/h throughout the state and the ACT, where the school zone runs from 8am-4pm, but hit out at South Australia for having "dangerous" rules"

"No jurisdiction should have a speed limit in school zones higher than 40km/h, raising concerns about Victoria where the limit is 60km/h on roads with a speed limit of 80km/h and higher," he said.

"It's completely absurd and potentially lethal. Where there's confusion, there's potential for harm - and that could be the life of a child.

"It's very confusing for motorists who, say, are from South Australia, then find themselves driving in a school zone in Queensland.

"All road rules should be the same throughout Australia. Where there is confusion, there is potential for harm. Children are our greatest asset. They deserve the greatest protection we can give them."

He said the Commonwealth government needed to convene an urgent meeting of all state and territory ministers responsible for road safety to standardise school zone times and regulations.

"We are also calling for all jurisdictions to follow the lead of NSW and set specific, higher penalties for school zone offences, in particular illegal and dangerous parking," he said.

"No jurisdiction should have more than a maximum speed of 40kms, regardless of whether they are wearing a school uniform as per South Australia."

Laws are broken

Despite NSW's world leading practices, school zones road laws are not being followed.

In 2016, 10,798 speeding infringements were issued in school zones across NSW, with 3,129 already issued in 2017, putting children and families at risk.

Millions of primary school children are expected to pound the pavement for national Walk Safely to School Day today around Australia, an annual event organised by the Pedestrian Council of Australia.

National Walk Safely to School Day is a community initiative that aims to raise awareness of the health, road safety, transport and environmental benefits of regular walking.

Topics:  harold scruby pedestrian council school zones walk to school

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