Speeds in school zones need to be standardised, according to Pedestrian Council of Australia CEO Harold Scruby
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Speeds in school zones need to be standardised, according to Pedestrian Council of Australia CEO Harold Scruby

The president of the national body for pedestrian safety is calling for standardised speeds in school zones across the country.

In Canberra, there was an 18 per cent increase in the number of people caught speeding in school zones between 2015 and 2016.

The president of the national body for pedestrian safety is calling for standardised speeds in school zones across the country.

The president of the national body for pedestrian safety is calling for standardised speeds in school zones across the country.Credit:Jeffrey Chan

In 2016, one in every five driver caught speeding in a school zone was from a different state, or held an international licence according to statistics from ACT Policing.

In a push to encourage the use of Navman GPS devices to help drivers identify school zones, Pedestrian Council of Australia CEO Harold Scruby called for standardised speeds in these zones across the country.

"All school zones should be the same speed, and at the same standard times, no matter where you are," Mr Scruby said in January.

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He said the different rules caused confusion among drivers across the states.

In the ACT, school zones run throughout the school day, from 8am to 4pm. However across the border in Queanbeyan, drivers only have to abide by the 40 km/h zones between 8-9.30am and 2.30-4pm on school days.

ACT Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury said the government was committed to providing the best safety for children.

"The 8am to 4pm operating hours of ACT school zones recognises that children can be present at anytime during those hours," Mr Rattenbury said.

"While the highest level of pedestrian activity occurs during drop off and pick up times, children may be near the school zone at lunch time, for excursions or many other reasons.

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

Mr Rattenbury said even though the different school zone times for ACT and NSW could sometimes cause confusion, the government had taken measures to promote the ACT zones of operation.

"All school zones in the ACT are clearly signposted identifying the speed and operating times. The government takes this issue seriously, so also runs a radio advertising campaign at the commencement of each school term to remind motorists that school zones are operating," Mr Rattenbury said.

A spokeswoman for the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Association said safety in school zones was a constant concern.

"It's disappointing that drivers continue to not take adequate care around school zones. We certainly welcome police activity around schools, that helps to keep the kids safe, remind drivers and encourage drivers to slow down," communications officer Janelle Kennard said.

Statistics from ACT Policing showed there was an average of five people caught every day speeding in school zones. Of the 896 people caught in the ACT in 2016, 546 were issued with traffic infringement notices and 350 were issued cautions.

Mr Scruby said it was vital drivers slow down when travelling through a school zone.

"Inconsistency causes confusion which can lead to trauma. In most cases where trauma occurs in school zones, drivers don't see children until it's too late," he said.

Mr Scruby said by speeding, drivers were risking "the lives and limbs of our greatest assets", children.

Kimberley Le Lievre is the Editor of The Sunday Canberra Times