330 motorists fined in ACT school zones as debate hots up on times

Glynis Quinlan 21 February 2019 59
ACT Policing said that motorists used a variety of excuses for speeding in school zones including being late.

ACT Policing said that motorists used a variety of excuses for speeding in school zones including being late. File photos.

More than 330 motorists have been fined for speeding in ACT school zones during the first two weeks of school for 2019 as debate hots up about whether the zones should be confined to peak periods as they are in NSW.

A total of 337 motorists were caught speeding in 40 km/h school zones by either the police or mobile speed vans between February 4 and 15 this year with one motorist clocked doing nearly double the speed limit (77 km/h) outside St Vincent’s Primary School in Aranda.

The three main zones where mobile vans detected motorists speeding were near Canberra Boys Grammar in Mugga Way (48 fines issued), near Canberra College in Launceston Street (33 fines) and near Radford College in College Street (32 fines).

ACT Policing said that motorists used a variety of excuses for speeding in school zones including being late, not knowing it was a school zone and saying that ‘the school zones where I’m from don’t go for the whole day’.

In the ACT 40 km/h school zones are in place from 8 am to 4 pm while in NSW most school zones operate from 8 am to 9:30 am and from 2:30 pm to 4 pm.

ACT Opposition education spokesperson Elizabeth Lee has previously flagged the need for community discussion about whether to bring the ACT into line with NSW on school zone times.

ACT Opposition education spokesperson Elizabeth Lee would like there to be community discussion on ACT school zone times.

Earlier this month, while announcing a Canberra Liberals’ push for all hazardous school crossings in the ACT to have flashing lights and supervisors, Ms Lee also invited feedback from the community on school zone times.

“We’ve been getting some great feedback about these time zones. We would really welcome more people getting engaged and telling us how they feel,” Ms Lee said.

“We’ve had some feedback from parents, especially those who do a lot of work or live across the border saying that it is consistent and so that would be good.”

However, ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury said the ACT’s 40km/h school zones have been in place since the 1980s and he was not looking at changing the times.

ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury said the school zones have been in place since the 1980s and kids come and go at different times.

“They’ve always been an all-day affair and with kids coming and going at different times I think that’s increasing in the modern world,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“I’d be very reluctant to take the 40 km/h zone away in those middle hours. There are kids moving about. I just can’t imagine why you would increase the risk.”

The number of motorists fined for speeding in ACT school zones this year was less than half the number fined in the same time period last year according to ACT Government figures, but Mr Rattenbury said this was because there was a “significant blitz” on the issue last year.

“The fact that normal enforcement turns up more than 300 infringements in two weeks is frustrating,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“Speeding through a school zone does put our children at risk. They are not paying attention to the roads too often. They should be but they don’t – they’re busy doing other things.

“The adults who are driving the cars need to take that extra bit of responsibility to keep an eye out for our kids on the roads.

“If someone is struck at 50 km/h their chances of dying are exponentially higher than if they’re struck with a car at 40 km/h.”

An ACT Government spokesperson said that while the highest level of pedestrian activity occurs during drop off and pick up times, children may be near the school zone at lunchtime, for excursions or for many other reasons such as arriving late at school after attending an appointment.

“The continuous operation of school zones speed limits throughout the school day minimises confusion for drivers and provides better safety for children attending school,” the spokesperson said.

Do you think 40 km/h school zones should be in force all day or just during peak school periods? Let us know in the comments below.

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59 Responses to 330 motorists fined in ACT school zones as debate hots up on times
DB4 DB4 12:17 pm 04 Mar 19

There is a simple solution to the school zone issue. If the gov was genuinely interested in slowing traffic and not revenue raising through fines then the installation of speed bumps would certainly be effective. The use of speed bumps works to slow traffic in Curtin.
As a resident across from a high school it is not traffic at peak times that is the issue, it is when children are in school or after school hours that cars speed past.
I would also question why our college students require a 40 km zone? As young adults surely they can cross a road safely without being in a 40 km zone.
If nothing else then at least the zones should be aligned to other states to reduce frustration of going slow when children Are not entering or exiting school.

tim_c tim_c 10:52 am 26 Feb 19

“The fact that normal enforcement turns up more than 300 infringements in two weeks is frustrating,” Mr Rattenbury said.
It’s really not surprising given that your Government has resigned itself to accepting that a significant portion of our road users will habitually exceed the speed limit. Mr Rattenbury pretends to be frustrated, but quietly enjoys the additional revenue from these motorists – otherwise he’d actually do something about it, like removing unsafe drivers from our roads.

russianafroman russianafroman 11:55 am 25 Feb 19

NSW’s laws are common sense. According to Rat, there are kids running about on the roads during class time. Does he have any figures to back that claim up? Has he made an effort to look at classroom truancy statistics? I doubt it. What’s disturbingly obvious here is that an elected politician is making up statistics off the top of his head in order to further his lazy and blanket laws. It’s rare that blanket laws work, these current laws are an excellent example of that.

John Moulis John Moulis 4:58 am 25 Feb 19

The ACT system of a blanket 40km/h limit rather than the NSW system is best. The NSW system omits the lunch hour. Many kids either walk home or to nearby shopping centres for lunch so the 40km/h limit needs to apply during those hours.

Rather than changing the ACT’s hours to conform with NSW, the NSW hours should be changed to conform with ours.

geetee geetee 4:24 pm 24 Feb 19

It’s best to slow down between 8-9.30 & 2.30-4 as there are so many bad drivers/parkers around schools. Regardless of school-limits, it pays to be aware at these times – even away from schools in case of students on bikes – rare as it is in the helicopter-parent era. Lower limits are unnecessary between 9.30-2.30.

bigred bigred 8:43 am 23 Feb 19

I find this whole annual debate quite disingenuous actually. The coppers now assisted by speed camera vans (or is that the other way around) spend a few extra hours during the start of school term and catch a few careless prats exceeding the speed limit. Then they lay off for the rest of term and let people think the focus is off.

But a few blocks away, the local child care centre which is open most of the year may have its speed zone reduced to 50 km/h for 50 metres or so either side of the driveway, and there is no enforcement action taken ever. One notable example is the YMCA establishment on Dixon Drive, Holder which has just benefited from a 50 km/h sign mounted obscurely on the eastbound approach. And that has really worked, not!

Then we have the 24/7 40 km/h zones that aren’t around the areas of busy pedestrian activity like the major shopping centres. On any day, chaos reigns due to the lack of any enforcement activity.

Then we have the ACT Liberals trot out a party policy position each year that may contain some reasonable elements, but due to the partisan manner of how government seems to operate in this place, has very little chance of going anywhere except generating a headline.

My view is what is required is a proper review conducted by someone who is qualified in these matters and can take a risk based approach to the issue and provide sensible recommendations.

    JC JC 7:59 am 24 Feb 19

    Whilst risk based approaches are the norm with most things these days, the fact remains that people dying on the roads, kids near schools in particular would end up a political hit potatoe that no one wants. End result the populaist approach is taken.

    And this applies to many things to do with government and the law. Some many laws are either a knee jerk reaction to a perceived problem (one hit laws for example) for no reason other than politics. And take take one hit as an example there are other laws such as assault and murder that would punish those who commit this crime, but a special cataogory was created to appease the masses.

whoaman whoaman 11:43 pm 22 Feb 19

Change it. Why would there be kids outside when it’s classtime? Lunch and recess don’t go for that long either. Kids aren’t blatantly stupid either to go and play on the road. Most schools also have fences now. The speed zone times are really unreasonable.

bikhet bikhet 10:59 am 22 Feb 19

Interesting that two of the three “main zones where mobile vans detected motorists speeding” are independent schools. Was this because that’s where the vans spent the most time, that;s where the most motorists are, those areas have the highest proportation of people speeding, or what?

I’d like to see one rule across Australia, but think the ACT idea is better than that in NSW – who knows what the damn time is! And whether it’s a school day or not.

    tim_c tim_c 11:04 am 26 Feb 19

    There are no surprises there, and it’s nothing to do with the schools being independent – take a drive past any of those schools and you’ll know… Radford is the best example – I’d suggest people speeding there in the middle of the day are actually driving to the conditions: the road is 2-3 lanes in each direction, and the school is not even within sight of the road! 40km/h on College St in the middle of the day feels like you could walk faster. Launceston St is not dissimilar, except that you can actually see the school from the road, if you look between the bars of the unclimbable fence. Mugga Way (Grammar School) on the other hand is a very busy road, with a constant procession of either tradies or people intent on demonstrating that buying a more expensive car doesn’t automatically make you a better driver.

Rollersk8r Rollersk8r 9:50 am 22 Feb 19

Would like to see it brought in line with NSW. No idea what Rattenbury is talking about with kids coming and going at different times.

Personally I don’t think College Street should be a school zone at all. It’s a long, straight hill with barely a schoolkid in sight. All Radford kids are dropped at the front door in mummy’s big SUV anyway.

    JC JC 3:41 pm 22 Feb 19

    Agree about college street especially as the changes to access to the school. There are plenty of examples of where there are 80km/h roads closer to schools than Redford is to College Street.

    Ones that come to mind are Birgman and the catholic high school near Casey both of which are in 80 zones next to Gungahlin Drive. (Though there is a 60 section for the gold creek retirement village access).

    Plus Amaroo and Margaret Hendry School share a border with Horse Park Drive but are in 80 zones. And yes Amaroo is currently lower due to the road works.

    In all 4 cases I would support a 60km/h school zone which is what NSW often does when a school zone is in an otherwise 80 zone.

    whoaman whoaman 11:46 pm 22 Feb 19

    Probably talking about the kids that choose on their own accord that education isn’t important.

    Canberra college also shouldn’t be a schoolzone. They’re young adults afterall.

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