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Streets near Wellington schools may try 40kph limit

Sep 19th, 2008 | By | Category: Featured Article, News

THE 40kph speed limit that applies around some schools in New Zealand may soon hit the streets of Wellington and make it safer for children to get to and from school.

Talks are under way to extend the 40kph limit beyond the few Christchurch and Hamilton schools where it has been introduced, and Owhiro Bay School is interested in getting on board.

The school zones use “activated” speed signs, which light up to display the slower speed at critical times when children are arriving at or leaving school. Flashing lights are used to attract the driver’s attention.

Minister of Transport Harry Duynhoven says the conditions for installing school zones ensure they are applied in situations most likely to benefit from a lower speed limit

“When they are applied correctly, it will deliver sustained and effective speed management.”

Conditions relate to the level of activity outside the school, the speed and volume of traffic and any speed-related crash history.

Between 2001 and 2005, a total of 1524 pedestrians and cyclists between the ages of five and 14 were injured on our roads during school terms, and 24 were killed, according to injury prevention organisation, Safekids.

Karen Hardie, principal of Owhiro Bay School says that she would like to do a trial around her school.

“It would certainly be popular with our community. [It] would be a good move for outside our school.”

The scheme was introduced in Christchurch after concerns were raised about speeds increasing around schools.

Research has shown that reducing vehicle speeds to 40 kph or less significantly reduces the level of injury if a child is struck by a vehicle.

The present 50kph speed limit within 250m of school and preschool boundaries is strictly enforced.

Police give instant fines to motorists going more than 5kmph over the 50kph limit.

PICTURE: Flashing signs to improve safety around schools. (Photo supplied by Hamilton City Council)

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  1. If a 40km speed limit can lessen the average 380 pedestrians and cylists injured yearly (based on your 2001-2005 figures) then it is worth actually doing – not just considering. When in the state of Victoria late last year I was impressed with seeing this in practice there, and how seriously motorists seemed to observe the 40km hour speed limit. The 40km signs flashed for two periods in the day; early in the morning to cover arrival times and the after school time when children were being collected. It might be worth looking at their statistics!

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