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Reflect for 2011: Protecting Children on our Roads

Reflect for 2011

If a child is killed on our roads it could cost the tax payer over $4 million. If this child survived, but is permanently disabled and were then to live on for another 45 years then this cost could rise to $18 million. This is obviously not taking into account the heartache it will cause a family and their friends. So why is there nothing to in place to protect children on our roads?

The school term is coming to a rapid end this year, but these holidays are a time to reflect on whether we want to continue subjecting school children to the hazards our roads. Most civilised countries have a speed limit outside their schools, as the safety for children is paramount and they have a law to protect vulnerable citizens on their roads. Here though it is accepted practice to have rural schools with a 100km/h open road speed limit outside their gate and there is no law to slow drivers down, not even during the start and finish of school. Some of these schools do have the benefit of flashing lights to alert drivers of the time of day, but the flashing lights do not mean that you have to slow down, merely that it would be nice if you did. And then if you as a driver do have the sense to slow down, do you actually have the knowledge of what speed is actually safe near children? It seems not and as it is these considerate drivers that do slow down, are often over taken by someone who knows that the law is on their side. Working on peoples’ conscience does not work here, what we actually need is a law that protects children. It should be 40km/h or less outside all schools at the very least at drop off and pick up times and at no time should there be cars travelling outside a school at 100km/h when children are present.

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There is a plan in place to slow drivers to 40km/h outside every Hastings school, including rural schools in 100km/h zones. If this is passed by the NZTA it will make Hastings the first District Council to achieve this in New Zealand. You may ask why something as simple as this has not yet been introduced throughout the country and some of the reasons have been that on certain roads a speed limit is unnecessary i.e. a straight wide road there is enough visibility to see children. Yet you may see children, but they are unpredictable and you never know what they will do next. Then I have heard that Kiwi drivers won’t abide by the law. I am sure they will if it costs them. A fitted speed camera will soon sort this. See above for how much it costs to support someone who has been injured and these figures saved would pay for a speed camera or two.

Every child needs protecting on our roads, not just the lucky few. Rural children are no different to those in the city and they need to be given as much opportunity to cycle or walk safely to school as their city contemporaries. Ultimately it must be down to money. So if they put these safety measures in place, the outcome will soon pay for itself and we will have more fit and healthy children, who are given a safe opportunity to learn about using the road. What is more a law protecting children outside schools will lead to more care and considerate driving.

With this being the last Press Release for the year, I would like to thank all those who have helped me publicise this vital message and I hope that you will continue to do so. I am always available for a chat. If you would also like to sign the online petition go to http://www.school-speed.org.nz and please pass it on. Happy Christmas to all and prepare yourselves for more ranting and raving from me next year. I am hoping that 2011 will be the year that the Minister of Transport sees sense and introduces a National Speed Limit of 40km/h or less outside all schools so that every child in this country is protected.


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