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Watch out for the kids

Horizons Regional Council

Monday 28 January, 2012

Watch out for the kids
With the school year beginning again, footpaths and crossings throughout the country will be full of children making their way back to school.

With this in mind Horizons Regional Council’s road safety coordinator Alane Nilsen is asking drivers and parents to be vigilant about children’s safety.

Mrs Nilsen says the peak time for child pedestrian injuries is from 7.30am–9am and 3pm–4.30pm weekdays.

“Traffic congestion increases around schools at these times, with large numbers of students being dropped off or collected from school by parents or caregivers,” says Mrs Nilsen.

“Drivers need to be particularly aware that often children are focused on other things and may not stop to think about looking before they cross the road.”

Mrs Nilsen says studies undertaken by Safekids* show children’s peripheral vision is limited and they may not see vehicles as easily as adults do.

Children’s ability to judge speed and distance of moving vehicles is less and they may let a slow vehicle pass, then try to cross in front of a fast one. They also have little understanding of the time it takes for a vehicle to stop.

“Drivers also need to be aware of how long it takes a vehicle to stop,” says Mrs Nilsen.

“Many drivers aren’t aware that they can be travelling at the speed limit (50km/h in areas around some schools) but still be driving unsafely due to the road or other traffic conditions. Other traffic conditions could mean the volume of traffic in that area and/or numbers of pedestrians or cyclists about.

“When you are driving you constantly need to be judging the safe speed for that stretch of road and ‘drive to the conditions’ - this may mean decreasing your speed to as low as 30km/h past a school.

“You are also legally required to reduce your speed to 20km/h past a school bus that has stopped to pick up or drop off students,” she says.

Fines for speeding offences vary and carry demerit points depending on the offence. These can range from a $30 instant fine and 10 demerit points for exceeding the speed limit by up to 10km/h, to a fine of up to $630 for driving 46-50km/h over the limit.

More information can be found on the New Zealand Transport Agency website www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/factsheets under ‘Driver Safety’ or at Safekids New Zealand www.safekids.org.nz.


*Study sourced from http://www.safekids.org.nz/Downloads/Safekids%20Factsheets/Traffic%20related%20child%20pedestrian%20injury%20factsheet%202011%20letterheadv2.pdf

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