Tuesday isn’t just the first day of classes for Edmonton elementary school students. It’s also the first day drivers will have to observe 30 km/hr speed limits in school zones.

Edmonton hasn’t had designated speed limits in school zones for 40 years. But concerns about speeding drivers convinced city council to reinstate them this year.

Loraine Kolber, a parent with two children at Westbrook Elementary School, has long been worried about how busy the road near the school is during the school year.

“We've seen a lot of near misses with kids stepping out off the curb and cars not seeing them,” she said.

Coun. Bev Esslinger, a former trustee with Edmonton Public Schools, has heard calls for increased safety measures for years.

She’s pleased that speed limits near schools are now dropping from 50 km/hr to 30 km/hr.

“Times have changed,” she said. “More students are being driven to school than ever before. It's a greater challenge now, so it's time for us to do it.”

The city plans to enforce the new speed limits. About $500,000 will be spent on enforcement.

“We have our community speed van over there which will be in the school zones on a daily basis,” said Dennis Tetreault, traffic safety supervisor. “So you can expect to see us out there, and you can expect to see police out there as well.”

The lower speed limits will be in effect near elementary schools from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.