Drivers in Australia are being urged to slow down and be cautious around school zones next week as the back to school rush gets underway.

Reduced speed limits will be back in place outside schools across Victoria from Tuesday 31 January, to keep children safe as they head back to school for 2017.

Speed limits will drop to either 40km/h or 60km/h outside schools in the morning from 8am to 9.30am, and in the afternoon from 2.30pm to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

School speed zones are designed to improve road safety and keep our children safe, while taking into account issues such as high traffic volumes, peak school pedestrian hours and school holidays.

The school speed zone limits are clearly signposted with permanent speed limit signs, advance warning signs, time based signs or electronic variable signs.

Minister for Education James Merlino and Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan urged drivers to slow down and take extra care around schools.

Mr Merlino also called on Victorians to get active and encourage children to walk or ride to school.

“Walking or riding to school is a great way for children to keep active, but it also means drivers need to take extra care around school zones and look out for kids on bikes and scooters, as well as on foot,” he said.

“A small reduction in speed can dramatically increase the chance of a child surviving if they are hit by a car.”

Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan said: “Going back to school is an exciting time for students, but we mustn’t forget that they can be unpredictable, fast and difficult to see.

“We’re urging parents to talk to their children about safely crossing the road and encouraging the basics of road safety.