INDEPENDENT NEWS

Road Infrastructure Fails Our Children

Published: Tue 24 Feb 2015 09:42 AM
United Nations Want Action While Road Infrastructure Fails Our Children
The United Nations (UN) is calling on Governments worldwide to act, with a Save Kids Lives campaign. Here the recent tragic event where 3 school children were knocked over by a car illustrates that New Zealand's road infrastructure fails not only our youngsters, but also innocent drivers. So Lucinda Rees from NZ School Speeds is joining with the UN and calling for "action rather than rhetoric" from the Ministry of Transport.
The UN urges individuals and organisations especially schools to help by signing the 'Child Declaration For Road Safety', then take a 'Safie' with their road safety message and send or deliver these messages to decision makers. This all culminates on 4th to 10th May for Global Road Safety Week when events can be organised and Ms Rees will deliver road safety messages on behalf of New Zealand's school children to our Minister of Transport.
School zones are used by children, yet speed limits vary greatly from 40km/h on some urban streets to a shocking 100km/h outside some rural schools. Drivers have told Ms Rees that they would happily slow to consistent speed limits in school zones, "yet our Government sits on their hands and does nothing. How many more tragedies are needed for something to happen?"
Consistent low speed limits of 30km/h maximum are recommended outside schools at peak times by the World Health Organisation and are widely adopted in Europe. Studies show that if children are hit by a car travelling at 30km/h or less they have a high chance of survival, but as speeds increase the likelihood of survival decreases. To keep school zones safe at other times of the day the speed limit should be no more than 60km/h.
"Minister of Transport Simon Bridges claims to be in favour of the Safer Journeys programme and its 'Safe Systems' approach, but is obviously deluded. For some years now, 40km/h as posted outside urban schools is no longer considered safe and speeds above are just plain dangerous for children trying to cross the road. Posting these speed limits in school zones is misleading drivers to think the speeds are safe.
"Children learn valuable life lessons when allowed to cycle or walk to school and will ultimately free roads of school drop off traffic, easing congestion. First rules need to be put in place to protect them. Schools need to get involved and inform children of safe routes to school and teach road safety and cycle skills. Children will continue to make mistakes, but if there are key safe places were they can cross, these mistakes are less likely to be their last one.
"Download the signboard, write a message, take a photo and post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #Safie and #SaveKidsLives or send it to schoolspeed@clear.net.nz and get involved," says Rees who set up NZ School Speeds organisation to rally for safer speeds outside schools.
Although there is one rule in place to protect school children getting on and off the bus - the 20km/h school bus rule - those who needed to cross roads in school zones are continuing to be ignored. This leads to lack of culture in slowing consistently near children, leading to few drivers abiding by the school bus rule.
"Speed limits are in place for children who get on and off a school bus and even for adults who work in road works, yet there is no consistent speed limit in place when children cross the road to school. Introducing consistent road rules for school children will protect all who have a right to learn. Mr Bridges this is your time to act and avoid being delegated to the naughty chair."
ENDS

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