Welcome to HRM’s version of 50 Shades of Grey. As of Sept. 1, 2012, changes in the speed limit for school zones have been implemented. Rather than simply lower the speed at all times for these areas, thereby removing the possibility of confusion or conflict, the new guidelines are vague and open to interpretation.
The new laws apply “at all times when children are present in the school area.” It is in effect all year, 24-hours a day. If a child is “on the highway in the school area” or “outdoors, within 30 metres of the highway, in the school area” a driver must slow down. For those, like me, who grew up with the Imperial System, we’re talking about children being somewhere within a hundred feet of the road!
So, if you’re driving at four in the morning on Christmas Eve and a child is on his lawn scanning the skies for signs of Santa, you must slow down if they live within a school zone. Never mind, that the child should be snug in their bed, or should have been taught the rules of the road.
What about signage? The other day I looked for signs on Glendale Avenue and found one telling me I’d just left a school zone. Logically, I thought there must be a sign on the opposite side of the road for traffic driving the other way advising them that they were now entering a school zone. No dice. It’s a good thing I knew about it, but what about people who are not familiar with the area, do they rely on their spider-sense?
I’m also not sure how police will determine that a driver passed a child. I’ve seen some 12-year-olds who would have no problem passing as adults and some young looking 16-year-olds.Will those writing tickets be asking for proof of everyone’s age or will it come down to their opinion? Good luck with that!
Personally, I think it’s all too wishy-washy. To me it would make more sense to just mark out the school zones and drop the speed limit at all times to the reduced rates. This would eliminate any chance of a mistake by drivers, pedestrians, and those doling out the tickets. I prefer things being black and white. Let’s leave the shades of grey to naughty literature.
Kevin Toal is a freelance writer who will be slowing down in school zones.