You may have noticed a change in signs posted around schools in Edmonton these past few months. All previously designated Schools Zones in Edmonton have now become Playground Zones. The transition to Playground Zones introduced a couple of minor changes:
- The 30 km/hr speed limit will be in effect from 7:30 to 21:00. That is, from 7:30 am to 9:00 pm.
- The 30 km/hr speed limit will be in effect every day, not just school days.
The reduced speed limit of 30 km/h, which serves as a proactive safety measure in areas where there are high volumes of children, will be in effect during hours of school operation and facility use. The purpose of designating areas that surround schools as Playgrounds Zones is twofold:
- The implementation of reduced speed limits during the allotted hours will improve safety for children.
- Playground Zones warn motorists of the chance of unexpected or unintentional children entering the roadway at undefined locations.
Since the implementation of reduced 30 km/h speed limit around schools (then School Zones) in 2014, statistics indicated a 13% reduction in collisions in the designated reduced speed limit areas. Furthermore, in the collisions that did occur, there was a 42% decrease in fatalities and serious injuries sustained by the pedestrian.
While there has been a reduction in collisions for children under 15, with the collisions that did occur in School Zones, nearly all occurred during the hours of 7:00 am and 9:00 pm. As such, Council determined it would be prudent extend the hours for which the 30 km/h speed limit would be in effect around schools.
The extension of the hours accounts for the fact that many schools provide extracurricular activities and host community programs outside of regular school hours. As such, children remain on school grounds well beyond 4:00 pm. In addition, with the transition to Playground Zones, the length of the road in which the 30 km/h speed limit will be in effect has been extended on roadways where there are multiple elementary and junior high schools in close proximity. Playground Zones will also account for roads near playgrounds, sports fields, and ball diamonds.
The new hours are indicative of the times that schools and playgrounds are being used by children. In addition, changing the hours to one consistent time across Edmonton also serves to reduce driver confusion.
The designation of Playground Zones is an important part of the City of Edmonton’s Vision Zero goal. Already a federal policy, Edmonton adopted Vision Zero as a measure to integrate proactive strategies on increasing traffic safety. With a goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries, the City of Edmonton has been working to assess and improve traffic safety through: engineering, education, enforcement, engagement, and evaluation.
Lowering the speed limits around elementary and junior high schools improves safety for children and protects our most vulnerable road users. Slowing down to 30 km/h in Playground Zones helps make sure that everyone stays safe.