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Drivers warned to obey school zones even when signs aren’t flashing

Drivers have been instructed to obey school zones from today (Tuesday), despite most public school students returning tomorrow.

The Department of Transport’s Chris Miller tells Neil due to the variation between government and non-government schools, school zones are determined according to start dates gazetted by the Department of Education.

“To avoid confusion it’s easier to go with the blanket thing right across the state.”

However, several listeners have informed Neil Mitchell the flashing signs have not been illuminated to reflect this, adding to the confusion.

One caller raised concerns that drivers on a 70km/hr stretch of Dandenong Road with an un-illuminated school zone risk being snapped by a speed camera.

In a statement, police said school zones are in place during pupil-free days.

They are enforced regardless of whether or not signs are illuminated, but “police use common sense and judgement when choosing where to enforce”.

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Analysis of AAMI data has found more than a quarter of road accidents occur during the afternoon school zone times.

The study of 340,000 insurance claims found 27 per cent of accidents took place between 1pm and 4:30pm.

Road trauma is the biggest killer of young children, newborn to 14 years.

Australian Road Safety Foundation CEO Russell White says the combination of commuters heading home and parents collecting their children can be hazardous.

“It becomes this real melting pot if you like, that perfect storm in a road safety sense”, he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

Another contributing factor, he says, is the body’s natural rhythm, which causes “a slump in our level of awareness” in the afternoon.

Mr White advises motorists should use safer driving behaviours to adjust to those changes: leaving bigger gaps in the traffic, easing off the throttle and looking further down the road.

“If we can have that level of awareness, then we can actually embed those sort of practised behaviours every time that we actually drive.”

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Image: kokkai / Getty

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