Safer school speed limits a positive move, but more needed says charity

Road safety charity Brake is welcoming the Government's plans to reduce speed limits around schools, but says its important more schools have a 30km/h limit in place.

The charity says reducing speeds to a maximum of 40km/h outside urban schools and 60km/h outside rural schools is a move in the right direction, however international best practice shows a 30km/h limit would be the safe and appropriate speed for many schools.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has emphasised the need for 30km/h limits, stating that in areas where 'motorised traffic mixes with pedestrians, cyclists, and moped riders, the speed limit must be under 30km/h' due to the vulnerability of these road users. [1]

30km/h limits are particularly important for protecting children, who often make mistakes when using roads. Research has found that children cannot judge the speed of approaching vehicles travelling faster than 30km/h, so may believe it is safe to cross the road when it is not. [2]

Caroline Perry, Brake's NZ director said: "All children should be able to get to and from school safely and whilst we're pleased to see this focus on improving safety, we want to ensure schools have a safe and appropriate speed for the environment, which is not necessarily the maximum allowable speed limit under these plans. The Government says it is streamlining the process for communities and local authorities to determine appropriate speed limits, and we hope this will result in safer speeds around schools. Lower speed limits help to save lives and reduce injuries, and also encourage people to walk and cycle more."

Brake is also welcoming the use of flashing speed limit signs.

Ms Perry added: "Flashing signs around schools are easy for drivers to spot, and help them to know when speed limits are in operation around those schools with variable limits. By comparison fixed signs can often be harder to see, particularly the times of operation which tend to change from school to school."

The charity is also welcoming plans for permanent speed limit changes and accompanying engineering measures around some urban schools, but says urban arterials and rural roads also need engineering.

"Whilst speed limit signs are important, engineering treatments also help highlight to drivers that they are entering a school zone. This is important for all schools, not just those in residential areas," Ms Perry said.

Tackling unsafe speeds programme
Brake is pleased to see the Government will roll out additional safety cameras on high-risk roads, and is welcoming the 'no surprises' approach to cameras.

"Research tells us that cameras can act as a deterrent to speeding, and highlight to drivers that the road is high-risk, as well as helping to enforce speed limits. Having warning signs in place can benefit this deterrent-effect. We're pleased to see more cameras planned for high-risk roads, and would also like to see other camera technology being used more frequently, such as average/point-to-point speed cameras and red light cameras," Ms Perry said.

End notes
[1] Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015, WHO, 2015
[2] Traffic at 30mph is too fast for children's visual capabilities, University of Royal Holloway London, 2010

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