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Government Apathy Over Road Safety

"What a disastrous road safety week, reflecting lack of Government involvement", says Lucinda Rees from NZ School Speeds who would like to join the road safety charity Brake in calling for "a road safety overhaul" and goes further to suggest "to put people in place who can sort out this debacle."

NZ School Speeds has been pushing for consistent speed limits outside schools of 30km/h at peak times and no more than 60km/h at other times of the day, to "change the culture of our drivers". The theory being that if drivers learn to be considerate to our most vulnerable road users, they will become more considerate drivers.

Driver education in New Zealand is still well below standards of other countries, where for years learner drivers have gone through professional driving instruction as well as classroom study. Learning bad driving habits from caregivers is often the only driver learning that teenagers get and it shows in our devastating road toll. Rees suggests that, "laws need to be put in place to teach drivers what speeds are safe in different situations.

"The theme for road safety week was watch out for kids, but apart from a brief statement from Craig Foss, the Associate Minister of Transport at the start of the week they did nothing to sort out the shambolic inconsistencies that our most vulnerable road users have to contend with. It seems that all this week staff in the Ministry of Transport have been quietly sweeping road safety of our most vulnerable road users under the carpet, yet they need to be accountable.

According to Ms Rees, "with inconsistent speed limits of up to 100km/h outside schools in rural areas the message to drivers is don't worry about slowing near children. Then drivers come across a school bus and at the last minute, but often too late, they see that they are expected to slow to 20km/h when it stops to unload.

"Hopefully no distracted child has run across the road and their journey continues and they come across road works and find that here they are expected to slow to 30km/h for grown adults.

"100k outside a school, where children are playing meters from the fence, then out of the blue 20k for children getting off a bus and then 30k for grown adults. Confused?!

"Then on past another school where perhaps there is a speed limit of 60km/h whilst children are let out of school. The likelihood of a child surviving after being hit by a car at this 'reduced speed limit' is slim. Meanwhile the driver must be thinking: "What the heck?!"

"Yes what the heck?! If those in charge of the Ministry of Transport are incapable of looking after road safety issues and don't make roads safer with consistent rules, then remove them and start with individuals who can."

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