The rules around schools

You might be surprised that the 25km/h speed limit within school zones applies 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round, whenever a child is present in the zone.

There are several different types of pedestrian crossing around schools and it’s important to know the rules that apply to each one.

Watch the video below about the various types of pedestrian crossings in action and then read on for more information.

How do I know I’m in a school zone?

On the approach to a school zone, you’ll notice white zigzag lines marked on the road. You’ll also see signs indicating the start and end of the school zone that show a speed limit of 25km/h and the words ‘When children present’.

What are the rules for school zones?

School speed zones apply when a person under 18 (or anyone wearing a school uniform) is between the school zone signs. The 25km/h limit applies if children are on the road, footpath, verge or median strip, or even riding a bike within the boundaries of the zone.

Outside of arrival and departure times, be aware that kids might be moving around the school area for sport or other activities.

If you’re unsure of a person’s age, err on the side of caution and reduce your speed.

Emu crossing

Identified by red and white striped posts holding orange flags marked ‘Children crossing’, emu crossings are only operational when the flags are displayed.

This is usually before and after school and around lunchtime but potentially at other times as well. Emu crossings are often staffed by student or teacher crossing monitors, and it’s important to follow their instructions.

Road users must give way to all pedestrians and cyclists using – or about to use – an emu crossing.

Kids may think they have priority even when the flags aren’t showing, so road users must remain alert when pedestrians are near a crossing.

Keep in mind that emu crossings are always within school zones, so the 25km/h speed limit applies when children are present.

Emu crossing
Emu crossings are operational when the flags are displayed. Image: RAA

Koala crossing

Identified by yellow lights sitting atop red and white striped posts, koala crossings are only operational when the lights are flashing.

Road users must give way to all pedestrians and cyclists using – or about to use – a crossing during these times, and slow down to 25km/h between the signs marked ‘Children crossing, 25km/h, when lights flashing’.

Koala crossing
Koala crossings are operational when the lights are flashing. Image: RAA

Like emu crossings, koala crossings are often staffed by crossing monitors.

Pedestrian Actuated Crossing (PAC)

Pedestrian actuated crossings are controlled by traffic lights and are activated by pedestrians.

When the lights turn red, drivers must stop, and not move off until the lights turn green and the crossing is clear.

Pedestrian Actuated Crossing
PAC crossings are activated by pedestrians. Image: RAA

PACs are usually located on busy roads, where the speed limit is 50km/h or higher.

Zebra and wombat crossings

Zebra crossings are operational 24/7 and are marked by pedestrian crossing signs and parallel striped lines on the road. Wombat crossings are zebra crossings on a raised section of road and are usually accompanied by a 40km/h speed limit sign. Some also have yellow flashing lights.

Road users must give way to all pedestrians and cyclists using – or about to use – these crossings.

Since 2023, the speed limit guidelines for South Australia have allowed zebra and wombat crossings to be used in school zones.

This type of crossing is internationally recognisable and, if installed in a school zone, eliminates the need for displaying ‘Children crossing’ flags.

Zebra crossings
Zebra crossings are operational 24/7. Image: RAA

Penalties

Penalties for exceeding the school zone speed limit range from $196 and two demerit points for exceeding the limit by less than 10km/h, to $1635 and seven demerit points for exceeding it by 30-44km/h. This means passing through a school zone at 60km/h would attract a $1635 fine. All speeding fines also incur a $99 Victims of Crime levy.

Failing to stop at a children’s crossing stop line or proceeding while a pedestrian or cyclist is using – or is about to use – the crossing attracts a fine of $499, three demerit points, plus a $99 Victims of Crime levy.

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