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Let's Debate Speeds Outside Schools

Let's Debate Speeds Outside Schools

The school speed limit debate has been around for many years and our current Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges needs to address this serious issue. New Zealand has varying speed limits outside schools, with some as high as 100km/h in rural areas. Lucinda Rees from NZ School Speeds wants the Government to introduce a 'consistent national speed limit' outside all schools.

As people are being encouraged to leave their cars at home, the alternative of walking or cycling would be made safer at the school gate for the vulnerable road user if a consistent national school speed limit is put in place. Children are likely to be at their most distracted when heading to or from school.

Globally, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in 10–19 year olds. The World Health Organisation recommends a speed limit outside schools of 30km/h or less. Ms Rees explains that "40km/h is the current minimum speed limit outside schools, yet a 30km/h speed limit is afforded adults when they work on the road." The school bus rule slows drivers passing a school bus to 20km/h when children are getting on or off the bus, but Rees adds "Unfortunately this is often ignored as drivers seem to see no point in slowing, when they don't need to slow to a similar speed outside schools."

A report published in 2008 estimated that following the introduction of 20 mph (32 km/h) zones in London, a reduction of casualties occurred by 45% and fatal or serious casualties by 57%.

Children are unpredictable and young children often don't see vehicles until it's too late as they have a more narrowed field of vision than adults. Yet the journey to and from school could be made safe and a great way to learn independence, if schools advertise safe routes and the speeds outside schools are reduced to 30km/h during peak times and no more than 60km/h at other times of the day.

"The Government is frankly negligent towards child road safety and if this negligence is due to potentially being unpopular with the voter, then they should pass the responsibility of looking after the welfare of children on our roads to an independent non political organisation," says Rees.

"Simon Bridges needs to become responsible towards our precious children and tackle this problem head on, as they are continuing to be seriously compromised on our roads. Reducing speeds outside some schools is not enough. Consistent slow speed limits is the way to go."


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