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For Road Safety Week Our Leaders Need To Be Road Safety Heroes

Next week is Road Safety week, from 9th to 15th May and the search is on for Road Safety Heroes. Lucinda Rees from NZ School Speeds would like to challenge the Government and Waka Kotahi to be super heroes, by tweaking some details of the Setting of Speed Limits 2022 for school zones as their contribution this week.

The Setting of Speed Limits 2022 was recently published and the rule will come in force on 19th May so there is still time for change. The Government and Waka Kotahi have made huge strides in making school zones a safe place. Some schools though will be missing out and it might take a long time to put 30km/h speed limits in place in others. We need this simplified, primarily for the sake of child road safety, but also for drivers to know what speed is safe within a school zone.

NZ School Speeds has spent years lobbying for consistent 30km/h outside every school in New Zealand and stakeholders have known for years that higher speed limits outside schools are unsafe, but so far little has been done to rectify this.

Ms Rees says that she can now see light at the end of the tunnel, “but we are not there yet. There is still talk of roads outside schools being categorised for being ‘appropriate for the road’. However these are school zones and children should be the priority with all having the World Health Organisation recommended maximum speed limit of 30km/h. The message should read ‘appropriate for children’. Just keep it simple, with protecting children a priority within school zones.

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“This will lead to more children walking or cycling and drivers would be aware that they need to drive at a maximum speed of 30km/h if children are to be safe where they are at their most distracted.”

For a Super Hero status we need the following:

  • Consistent speed limits of 30km/h outside every school, no categories needed
  • Putting 30km/h speed limits in place outside every school by the new term in 2023 at the latest, not by 2027, as in clause 5.4 of the Setting of Speed Limits 2022
  • Making school zones ‘appropriate for children’ rather than ‘appropriate for the road’
  • Giving all vulnerable road users a mandatory passing gap of at least 1 metre for vehicles being driven up to 60km/h and 1.5 metres at speeds higher than 60km/h. All children walking or cycling are vulnerable road users and should be passed with great care

“This last ‘wish’’, says Ms Rees, “has been promised for years. Still there is no law to prevent drivers passing vulnerable road users closely. Unless it is mandatory, drivers will continue to pass too closely, making cycling on many roads an anxious and dangerous ride. Children on bikes or scooters using the road, need extra care as they have a possibility of behaving unpredictably.

“World events are worrying for children and now is the time to give them a chance of being in control of their future. Let us get this right now or it may never happen in New Zealand. Walking and cycling to school should be a right, not a Russian roulette journey. It will give children many health benefits, plus independence, responsibility, resourcefulness and resilience. All this in relative safety and letting them just be a kid.” ENDS

Setting of Speed Limits 2022:

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