Let's Debate Speeds Outside Schools
The school speed limit debate has been around for many years and our current Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges needs
to address this serious issue. New Zealand has varying speed limits outside schools, with some as high as 100km/h in
rural areas. Lucinda Rees from NZ School Speeds wants the Government to introduce a 'consistent national speed limit'
outside all schools.
As people are being encouraged to leave their cars at home, the alternative of walking or cycling would be made safer at
the school gate for the vulnerable road user if a consistent national school speed limit is put in place. Children are
likely to be at their most distracted when heading to or from school.
Globally, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in 10–19 year olds. The World Health Organisation
recommends a speed limit outside schools of 30km/h or less. Ms Rees explains that "40km/h is the current minimum speed
limit outside schools, yet a 30km/h speed limit is afforded adults when they work on the road." The school bus rule
slows drivers passing a school bus to 20km/h when children are getting on or off the bus, but Rees adds "Unfortunately
this is often ignored as drivers seem to see no point in slowing, when they don't need to slow to a similar speed
A report published in 2008 estimated that following the introduction of 20 mph (32 km/h) zones in London, a reduction
of casualties occurred by 45% and fatal or serious casualties by 57%.
Children are unpredictable and young children often don't see vehicles until it's too late as they have a more narrowed
field of vision than adults. Yet the journey to and from school could be made safe and a great way to learn
independence, if schools advertise safe routes and the speeds outside schools are reduced to 30km/h during peak times
and no more than 60km/h at other times of the day.
"The Government is frankly negligent towards child road safety and if this negligence is due to potentially being
unpopular with the voter, then they should pass the responsibility of looking after the welfare of children on our roads
to an independent non political organisation," says Rees.
"Simon Bridges needs to become responsible towards our precious children and tackle this problem head on, as they are
continuing to be seriously compromised on our roads. Reducing speeds outside some schools is not enough. Consistent slow
speed limits is the way to go."