Speaking up About Road Safety for School Children
Safe routes for school children were promised before the last election by the then Green Party Transport Spokesperson, Julie Anne Genter now our road safety minister. A few years on, routes to schools remain unsafe and there are still speed limits up to 100km/h outside schools. For Road Safety Week, NZ School Speeds is calling for consistent 30km/h outside every school at peak times.
“6th to 12th May is Road Safety Week and the theme is ‘Save Lives # Speak Up’, but is anyone listening?” asks Lucinda Rees from NZ School Speeds. “Speed restrictions of 30km/h are in place for road workers and there is a 20km/h speed limit when drivers pass a school bus, but speed limits up to 100km/h seem acceptable to authorities outside some rural schools.”
As this is being written 139 people have died on our roads. If these 139 people had lost their lives in one event, there would be outcry and rules would no doubt change quickly. These unnecessary deaths have occurred over just four months and despite leaving distraught families and communities, nothing radical is happening to make our roads safer.
“Road safety needs to start with our children,” says Ms Rees. “Children are our future drivers and roads need to be safe for parents and caregivers to let them travel independently. We need safe routes to school, and consistent speed limits so that children can cross the road where the speed limit is 30km/h max, as recommended by the World Health Organisation. Some individual councils like Hamilton, are considering 30km/h outside every school, but until the Government lead the way by putting a rule in place, many will continue to ignore school road safety.”
In many European countries, children make their way independently to school and New Zealand children must have opportunity to do this as well. It will benefit their health, including their mental health and they will learn how to behave responsibly on our roads, making for a more considerate road user in the future, as well as aiding our environment and freeing up roads.