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School zone speed limits - Did you know this?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

School zone speed limits - Did you know this?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
January 16, 2014

How do you understand the School Zone Speed Limit? What does "present" mean to you?

What does the law say? "On a school day when school children are present and so close thereto that a potential hazard exists because of the close proximity of the motorized traffic, no person shall drive a motor vehicle at a speed in excess of 20 miles per hour while passing a school zone or while traveling on a roadway on public school property or upon any public thoroughfare where children pass going to and from school."

Want to read it for yourself? 625 ILCS 5/11-605(a)

What do the State Police say? If it's a school day, between 7AM-4PM, and you can see kids, SLOW DOWN TO 20MPH..

This means on Country Club Road, just east of McConnell Road, at the Crystal Lake Montessori School, SLOW DOWN between 7AM-4PM, if you can see even one kid outside the school building. The building is well off the roadway - down the hill, across the parking lot. If one kid is outside the building, the school zone speed limit is "hot".

You'd never know this from my request to the Bull Valley P.D. for clarification. It's impossible to reach an officer or even the chief there. One officer did call me back and left a message. The message said he'd call back the next day. He didn't. The Chief didn't call back, either.

Personally, I believe that "present" means near the roadway, not 200 feet off the roadway, walking from Mom's minivan directly into the school building. But the State Trooper said, "What if you are going 55MPH and lose control of your car? You could travel across the school yard and hit a child." Well, yes, and my car could, at 20MPH, blow up and send the spare tire sailing over the tree tops to smash a kid 300' away...

And if you are on Greenwood Road or West Wonder Lake Road by Greenwood Elementary School, same deal. If you can see a kid between 7AM-4PM, slow down to 20MPH - ALL THE WAY through the school zone.

OK, you've been warned. If you are behind me and I drive into a school zone on a school day between 7AM-4PM, I shall slow all the way down to 20MPH, and I'll maintain 20MPH to the sign that announces the end of the school zone. You never know when there might be a small child way down on the school grounds whom I can't see. Please do not rear-end or tailgate me.

Look at it this way... I'm saving you $375, plus court costs and fees and driving school and points.

NOTE: (1/18/14) I may be wrong about the 7AM-4PM effective times for school zones. I was told this several years ago and believe I even saw it in the Code. Today all I see is "On a school day when children are present..."

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