Contending with cars driving at variable and often high speeds during heavy school time traffic, distractions from other children and no safe place to cross, Add to that illegal parking, cars turning and distracted driving.
Children have to navigate this outside their school at the start and end of their day, leaving them at risk of death or serious injury and so it is clearly to remain, unless road controlling authorities suddenly have an epiphany. For this people need to act now, NZ School Speeds says.
If we want our children to get to and from school safely, this needs to change. From November 14 to December 12 Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency are consulting on the setting of speed limits on State Highways, including every school on these routes. Lucinda Rees from NZ School Speeds is urging people to make a submission for up to 30km/h outside every school at peak times and no more than 60km/h at other times of the day at https://nzta.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bqEQ4c9zULB2NPU with more information at https://www.nzta.govt.nz/assets/Safety/docs/interim-state-highway-speed-management-plan/draft-ismp.pdf
According to Waka Kotahi: “All schools, including kura kaupapa Māori and Kura ā Iwi, on the state highway will have safe and appropriate speeds around them, making it safer and more enjoyable for our children to walk, cycle and scooter to and from home.”
“Some schools are deemed second-class citizens as they fall into the category 2 and the expectation is for these schools to have speed limits of up to 60km/h – a speed limit often unsurvivable by a child. Some children clearly do not matter to Waka Kotahi,” Rees says.
“If we want Vision Zero to succeed on our roads then we need to start making safe roads for our children, the most vulnerable road users. The recommended speed limit outside a school, during peak times is no more than 30km/h. This reduction within a typical school zone would cost the driver less than a minute in travel time.”
In a resource about pedestrians, https://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/nz-pedestrian-profile/6.html#66 Waka Kotahi advises: “The faster a driver goes, the more difficult it is for them to avoid hitting a pedestrian in their path. An alert driver travelling at 50 km/ph can just stop in time to avoid a pedestrian who steps out onto the road three house sections away (45 metres). The same driver, travelling at 60km/ph will still be travelling at 44 km/ph when the pedestrian is hit.”
“Yet they are advising 60km/h outside a school, when children are coming and going,” Rees says.
“Every child should have a right to get to and from school in safety. We need to be encouraging all children to get to school independently for their wellbeing, which will also help the planet. We will achieve this, if the maximum speed limit at peak times outside every school is 30km/h. This is what is needed to kickstart Vision Zero. Consistency is needed for this to work.
“The safety of our children on roads is in the hands of road controlling authorities. If they really care, they will prioritise children and have consistent speed limits of 30km/h in place outside every school and do this before the 2023 term begins.”