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Start the school term safely

Media Statement
For immediate use
Date 7 October 2005

September 2005

Start the school term safely

With the school term due to start on Monday, families are reminded to think about staying safe on the way to school.

Safekids Campaign national co-ordinator Joy Gunn says, as petrol prices rise, some families are choosing not to drive their children to and from school. This will increase safety by reducing the amount of traffic children have to cope with around schools, while other measures, such as walking school buses and patrolled pedestrian crossings, will help keep children safe as they walk.

“The peak times when child pedestrians are injured are weekdays from 8am – 9am and 3pm – 5pm. Traffic congestion around schools at these times can be high, with an estimated 67 percent of trips to school by kids made in vehicles.”

Land Transport New Zealand chief executive Wayne Donnelly says all families can help save lives on the way to school.

“Reducing congestion will help. Children, particularly those aged under 10 years, can't judge the speed and distance of vehicles as adults can. They are small and often not visible to drivers - making them vulnerable in high traffic situations.”

“Teaching children to be safe on the roads and footpaths will also help. Parents who want their children to start walking can find out about initiatives such as identifying safer routes to school, or joining or setting up a walking school bus.”

The safety of child pedestrians is a key focus for the Safekids Campaign which aims to raise awareness of specific child injury issues and their prevention. The Campaign will have a year-long focus on pedestrian safety from October this year until October 2006.

Annually, on average, 14 child pedestrians are killed in New Zealand and more than 240 admitted to hospitals with injuries.

Land Transport, the New Zealand Police, ACC, the Ministry of Health, Plunket, Age Concern, Rural Women, the Office of the Children's Commissioner and the Injury Prevention Network of Aotearoa New Zealand are supporting this year's Safekids Campaign which is co-ordinated by Safekids New Zealand (the child safety service of Starship Children's Health).

To mark the Campaign's pedestrian focus coalitions will address specific child pedestrian injury issues in their communities.

While some will aim to reduce traffic congestion around schools, others will undertake speed enforcement campaigns with police, and still others will work with local councils on ways to reduce child deaths and injuries through engineering changes.

ENDS

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