Saturday, May 15, 2021
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Children Set To Become Priority Outside Schools?


Schoolchildren – our most vulnerable road users – are set
to benefit from proposed changes to lower speed limits on
roads outside schools to a maximum of 30 km/h for urban
schools and 60 km/h for rural schools. NZ School Speeds, a
road safety organisation representing school children and
concerned adults, is delighted by the announcement and
thanks the Minister of Transport for his consideration, but
asks for consistency of speed limits to protect all
children.

Implementing consistent road rules is an
easy and effective way to make roads safe for children and
families. Our Minister of Transport, Michael Wood, has
realised this and is now considering a whole-of-network
approach to speed management. “Simplifying and
standardising rules to enact a consistent 30 km/h limit
outside schools, rather than the ridiculous current limit of
up to 100 km/h. These rules are a great way to enforce a
safe speed limit around children travelling to and from
school,” states Lucinda Rees from NZ School
Speeds.

The proposal suggests that in some cases the
speed limit should be 40 km/h outside some urban schools. A
universal 30 km/h limit at peak times must be considered to
ensure drivers always know what is expected of them. The
difference of outcomes between these speeds of a vehicle
hitting a child is staggering: according to the World Health
Organisation, an increase in average speed of 1 km/h
typically results in a 3% greater risk of a crash involving
injury. At the increased 40 km/h, the likelihood of a child
being killed is doubled, despite being ‘only 10 km/h
greater.’ As such, raising the speed limit to save drivers
a slight amount of travel time is unconscionable when
weighed against the safety and wellbeing of our
children.

Furthermore, a 60 km/h speed limit outside
rural schools is initially acceptable, but must be reduced
to 30 km/h at peak times to ensure safety, provide
consistency to regulations, and minimise driver uncertainty.
Rural schools often depend on school buses, which currently
have a universal passing speed limit of 20 km/h. Why should
speed limits around schools not be similarly consistent for
all areas? A child at a rural school is just as vulnerable
as one at an urban school. The 30 km/h limit must be in
place for every child, no matter their area.

Children,
as our most vulnerable road users, must be the main
consideration within a school zone, not drivers. Children
can act impulsively and are easily distracted. Young
children are unable to judge speeds of vehicles. If
travelling to school via foot or bike is made to be a safe
and attractive option for families, children will benefit
the from exercise and mental stimulation this offers.
Implementing safe speeds around schools gives children this
opportunity to improve their wellbeing.

NZ School
Speeds is pleased that this potential benefit is considered
in the proposal, which states that “RCAs [Road Controlling
Authorities] will be encouraged to consider speed management
treatments in the broader area around a school (e.g. road
narrowing and raised platforms).” The intent of this
change is to help improve safety and access for children who
may use active modes of transport to get to and from
school.

However, the proposed timeframe for these
changes is unacceptable. Under the current proposal, ‘RCAs
will be required to introduce an initial 40% of changes by
30 June 2024 and use ‘reasonable efforts’ to complete
the remaining changes by 31 December 2029. This is much too
long a time to wait to make travel safer for our children.
NZ School Speeds would like to see the revised speed limits
implemented before the first term of 2022.

Ms Rees
adds: “If this proposal goes ahead, it will be a giant
step for road safety of all vulnerable road users, but only
if a consistent 30km/h speed limit is implemented for all
schools. Children need to be the main consideration within a
school zone.”

NZ School Speeds will be submitting on
the proposed rule change and would like to encourage the
public to submit by 25th June 2021 at www.nzta.govt.nz/speedrule2021.

© Scoop Media

 



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