20 MPH When Children Present

I drive through a school zone on my way home now. The speed limit signs say: “School Zone 20 MPH When Children Present.” What exactly does this mean? Is the speed limit 20 only when I can see kids there? Is it 20 during school hours or on school days? I live in Colorado…

Around here, they have flashing lights and crossing guards when the school zone speeds are in effect. Generally this is 30-45 minutes before and after school and during lunch time.

In the absence of those, I think you would be expected to drive carefully through the school zone at all times, and slow down to 20 if you see kids near the street.

This was a question on the written portion of my driver’s license test, 22 years ago. I remember, because I got it wrong. :slight_smile:

It was worded almost exactly as the OP, with multiple choice options. “The sign says 20 MPH when children present. What does this mean? (a) 20 MPH when children are present, (b) 20 MPH during school hours or whenever children are likely to be present, etc.” I don’t remember the other two options, beyond dismissing them as obviously wrong. I couldn’t remember exactly what the manual said so I focused on (a) and (b).

I thought (a) would be sort of silly, because, practically speaking, you can come cruising into the zone at 35, and then slam on the brakes for a precipitous deceleration upon the spying of one or more frolicking tykes. That struck me as dangerous, and (b) seemed much more reasonable, so that’s what I marked. The correct answer, as it turned out, was (a). I’m still a little baffled by it. Nevertheless, that’s what the sign “means,” legally speaking, or at least, two decades ago.

This is in Washington state, for what it’s worth.

Source: Colorado Springs Police Dept. - August 2008 (Word DOC warning.)

I’ve wondered about those signs near high schools. What if a student is present, but that student is an 18 year old high school senior and, therefore, not a “child?” Also, I suppose a single child, regardless of age, is not sufficient to lower the speed limit since the law says “children” in the plural.

But be careful. If you’re driving your own kid to school and you see one, then, counting yours in the back seat, “children” are present. And are you really sure about the back seat of that car in front of you?