I. School Zone Ahead Signage: What does it mean?
If you are driving a car for quite some time now, you would eventually see ‘School Zone Ahead’ signs near schools. Although this is the standard in most schools all around the world, only a few really know the exact purpose of it.
A school zone refers to an area on a street near a school. This means that many children are in the area. Children are not as alert as adults when it comes to crossing roads. With this, school zone sign meaning is to serve as a warning.
This is the common sign used in the Philippines for School Zone Ahead
When you see the School Zone Ahead sign, every driver should slow down. Slowing down in school zones will reduce the risk of unwanted accidents. Children tend to run out into the street when they are playing so they are prone to accidents. In some areas, School Zone Ahead signs have certain hours of operation only.
For those who already have their driving license with them, chances are they encountered a question in LTO examinations regarding School Zone Ahead signs.
The School Zone Signage illustrates two people holding each other’s hands. The school zone warning sign shape is a hexagon and is covered in yellow-green color.
Keep an eye for this road traffic sign. [Photo: Pedsafe]
In urban areas such as Metro Manila, a sign is placed before schools. Due to the heavy traffic, most cars are passing by school zones slowly. However, that is not that case in most rural areas. Since rural areas have high-speed thoroughfares, most schools have put up additional barricades to slow down passing vehicles.
II. School Zone Ahead: What does the law say about this?
Since it is an official traffic sign in the Philippines, there are government implemented rules when it comes to school zones signage.
You can find the rules in school zones in the Republic Act No. 4136. It states that vehicle passing school zones only have a maximum allowable speed of 20 km/h. This also includes crowded streets and approaching intersections at “blind corners.” While a 30 km/h speed limit is implemented on the city and municipal streets with traffic lights.
Due to the small roads in the country, the big yellow school bus is not practical to use
There is a reason the school zone sign speed limit is specifically rated at 20 km/h. Most pedestrians will still survive when hit by a car running at 20 km/h while having injuries. Speeds higher than 20 km/h will already impose serious injuries or even chances of death.
The law also states exceptions in school zone areas. The speed limit shall not apply to the following as per the Act:
- A physician or his driver when the former responds to emergency calls;
- The driver of a hospital ambulance on the way to and from the place of accident or other emergency;
- Any driver bring a wounded or sick person for emergency treatment to a hospital, clinic, or any other similar place;
- The driver of a motor vehicle belonging to the Armed Forces while in use for official purposes in times of riot, insurrection or invasion;
- The driver of a vehicle, when he or his passengers are in pursuit of a criminal;
- A law-enforcement officer who is trying to overtake a violator of traffic laws; and
- The driver officially operating a motor vehicle of any fire department, provided that exemption shall not be construed to allow unless or unnecessary fast driving of drivers afore-mentioned.
Some cities in the Philippines have ordinances that prohibit honking in school zone areas, especially during class hours. Other places include churches during Mass and hospitals. Unfortunately, many drivers still ignore this ordinance.
III. School Zone Ahead: What are the penalties for violators?
Despite having these laws in place, many drivers are still disregarding the rules in school zone areas. The reason we see for this poor occurrence is that many drivers didn’t undergo proper road rules orientation.
If you happen to pass by school zones, chances are you are immediately slowed down due to tricycles and pedicabs piled up as school service. This is another reason why speed limits in school zone areas are not thoroughly looked at.
Other warning signs you need to know
This raises the question, “what are really the penalties for violators?” The answer is found in Chapter V Article I of RA 4136. The Act states that the offenders of school zones regulations shall be fined of not less than one hundred and not more than five hundred pesos.
In the event that the offender cannot pay the fine, he/she shall undergo subsidiary imprisonment as provided for in the Revised Penal Code. Moreover, if an unreasonable fast driving resulted in the death or injury of a person, the offender shall be punished under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code.
VI. School Zone Ahead: What do I need to do?
The short answer is to slow down. If you are used to driving relatively faster than the school zone speed limit, then you might want to change the habit as children can be affected badly. Besides, schools are not that long so it shouldn’t take much of your time.
You can also familiarize yourself with the community you are currently in. Some School Zone Ahead signs have certain hours only so you might want to take advantage of that. Regardless, always keep an eye on the road.
Keeping an active eye on the road can save lives. [Photo: NSC]
In addition, some School Zone Ahead signs are not present or probably taken down by forces of nature. Familiarizing yourself with your community can also help you identify where the school zones are with or without the signs.
As said earlier, most schools in rural areas have barricades as an effort to slow down high-speed vehicles. That is why it is still best to slow down with or without barricades so these things won’t get you by surprise. It can cause inconvenience if you hit a barricade as you will go to an auto shop for repair.
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