It’s important to keep your eyes on the road while driving in Ontario, especially if you are passing through a school zone. Ontario has strict laws about speeding near schools and they impose hefty fines for those who are caught.
A study done by CAA in 2019, showed that nearly 50% of Canadians polled witnessed a distracted driver in a school zone, with 25% of Canadians witnessing a near miss or collision in a school zone with a child involved.
In order to keep our future doctors, engineers, and politicians safe, Ontario drivers must abide by the school zone speed limit signs which are typically posted on school and municipal property around any Ontario elementary, middle, or secondary schools. Below we’ll outline what these signs look like so you can be aware of them.
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How do you define a school zone?
The school zone is an area near a school or crosswalk leading to the schoolyard. It features reduced speed limits and road markings, as well as crossing guards in order to keep children safe by alerting automobiles that there is an upcoming school zone.
Different Ontario school zone signs
How does speeding in a school zone affect my insurance?
When you’re caught driving over the speed limit in school zones, depending on how fast you were driving, you’ll face a mandatory fine and you could lose 3-5 demerit points. Accumulating demerit points is a sure-fire way to increase your insurance rates.
There are many factors that affect the cost of insurance, including demerit points, careless driving and, speeding tickets. Speeding fines can lead to a 20% increase in your auto premiums and some companies will take away any good driver discount you had if they find out about it. How long this affects your car insurance rates depends on your insurance company, but 3 – 5 years seems like a pretty standard period of time when it comes down to things.
What are the rules for driving in a school zone?
Be aware of school zones
While driving, keep an eye on signage warning you of school zones. There are warning signs, reduced speed limits, and sometimes other signals that will help you know where the school zone ends/begins. It is illegal to pass any vehicle while in a school zone (including buses) and tickets from these can affect one’s insurance rates.
Follow the speed limit
The speed limit in school zones is 30 to 40 km/h. Be sure to always reduce your speed and brake in advance whenever you see a posted sign indicating a reduced speed limit near the vicinity of schools, playground zones, parks or other areas frequented by school children.
Yield to pedestrians
Drivers must yield to pedestrians and crossing guards at posted school zones. You should also watch out for children exiting cars or buses.
Yield to bus drivers
As a driver, you should never pass a stopped school bus. Not only is it dangerous, but if you do and are caught by law enforcement you may be fined up to $2000 and earn six demerits on your license.
What are the fines for tickets in school zones?
In Ontario, fines can be up to 60% higher than traditional traffic violations. The fine depends on how fast you were going over the school zone speed limit. Fines over 20km/hr can lead to a loss in demerit points.
How much are school zone speeding tickets?
The cost of a speeding ticket can vary depending on how fast you were driving. Here are the fines:
Over 10km/hr – $95
Over 20km/hr – $180 + 3 demerit points
Over 30km/hr -$450 + 4 demerit points
Over 40km/hr – $595 + 4 demerit points
If you’re a repeat offender, the fines will likely increase. You can also face careless driving charges.
What is the speed limit in Ontario in a school zone?
The school zone speed limit is between 30 to 40 km/h. These speed limits are in effect from 8 am until 5 pm on weekdays from September to June, but kids can be present outside of these hours too! Slow down when you see a school sign and make sure that the area around it is clear before proceeding through.
Driving safely in school zones
- When you see a school zone sign, slow down your speed before you enter the school zone.
- It’s important to always obey school crossing guards. They are legally allowed to stop traffic and help children across the street. If you refuse to stop for a crossing guard while children are present, besides being an asshole, you can also be fined up to $500 and lose up to 3 demerit points.
- You must yield to pedestrians at school crossings as they have the right-of-way.
- Be aware of when a school bus is stopped. A school bus with a flashing yellow or red light indicates that kids may be crossing the road. If you pass a school bus with either of these lights flashing, you can be fined up to $2,000 and earn 6 demerit points.
If you notice a vehicle doesn’t stop properly for a school bus or is speeding in a school zone, you can report this to the police by dialing 911. You can also visit your local police station to make a report, but be prepared to have the following information:
- Date and time of the event
- The vehicle information (make, model, colour, and license plate)
- Who was driving
- Type of school bus
- Where the bus was stopped
- Were any lights flashing?
- Did the vehicle pass the school bus?
Are school zones in effect during the summer?
The speed limit in school zones is in effect from 8am – 5pm from September to June. There may be exceptions to this if summer school is in effect, so always pay attention to the speed limit signs in your local school zones. Keep in mind that playground zones are in effect year-round!
Can I pass a car in a school zone?
If you’re driving in a school zone, it is illegal to pass another vehicle or bus. It doesn’t matter how slow the car ahead of you is going- if they’re going too slow for your taste, wait it out, and don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk! Be patient and pay attention when passing through school zones; remember that there are children around who need to be confident about crossing streets safely.