Speedsters given the go slow
AUCKLAND CITY COUNCIL
14 June 2006
Speedsters given the go slow
Motorists driving past an Onehunga school will be travelling slower from today when Auckland city’s first 40km/h speed zone is formally launched.
The speed outside St Joseph’s School, on Church Street, has been reduced by 10km/h during busy times before and after school.
Mayor Dick Hubbard says it is imperative that the safety of school children in Auckland city is improved.
“In terms of accidental deaths, research tells us that traffic crashes are the biggest killer of school age children. We are determined to make it safer for children near their school,” says Mr Hubbard.
“The council is currently assessing 100 Auckland schools for their suitability to adopt a speed zone, based on Land Transport New Zealand (LTNZ) criteria.
“We hope to begin rolling out this programme just as soon as the St Joseph’s speed zone trial is successfully completed,” says Mr Hubbard.
New Zealand Police are supportive of the project, saying it builds on their road safety education campaign launched at the beginning of the school year.
In February, the Police began an on-going campaign targeting motorists near schools. Anyone caught driving more than 5km/h over the speed limit, instead of the usual 10km/h threshold, is now ticketed.
Auckland city district road policing manager, Inspector Heather Wells, says school children are particularly vulnerable road users.
“Children have trouble judging the speed of moving vehicles and don’t understand the time it takes for a vehicle to stop. They are always on the move and seem to have trouble stopping at the kerb so they often dart out into traffic,” says Ms Wells.
“The Police are very supportive of any initiative that will improve road safety for school children. We would endorse more schools in the Auckland city area being zoned at 40km/h.”
The St Joseph’s School speed zone is a six-month trial project, which has been significantly funded by the Maungakieie Community Board.
The school was chosen to pilot the scheme after council completed a travel plan process with the school community.
A road safety study revealed a significant number of road-related injury crashes around the school as well as vehicles reaching speeds of up to 70km/h during morning and afternoon peaks.
Should evaluations prove the trial has been successful, limited speed zones will be phased in at schools across Auckland city according to highest risk.
In the last five years, 258 young pedestrians (aged five to 15-years) were involved in on-road crashes, with more than 50 per cent of crashes occurring during morning and afternoon travel to and from school.
A school speed zone is of no set size. Each zone is determined according to the individual environment of the school.
During the St Joseph’s School trial, the council will evaluate motorist compliance, technology such as the electronic signage, community acceptance and general feedback.
Auckland City is currently collecting data relating to traffic flow, speed counts and crash histories at 100 of the 158 schools in the city. The majority of the schools being assessed are primary and intermediate schools, where the risk of injury to pedestrians is higher than at secondary level.
Auckland City is not able to introduce a city-wide policy of 40km/h outside all schools because LTNZ has set criteria that each school must meet before a speed zone can be introduced. LTNZ criteria includes school locality (arterial road or residential side street) and speeds during busy times before and after school.
A school speed zone requires electronic signage for both approaches into the zone, with static signage on all approaches to the main road where the zone is operating. The cost including signage, installation, consultation and amending the bylaw is between $60,000 and $70,000 per school speed zone.