Brake, the road safety charity says 30km/h limits are needed around schools to protect children and help create safer, more liveable streets. The charity is also reminding drivers to slow down and look out for kids as schools and kindergartens return from the summer break. As the new term starts, roads around schools and childcare centres will be busy with parents and children.
Lower speed limits help to reduce the risk of death and serious injury, particularly to people on foot and bicycle. Drivers have a much better chance of stopping in time if a child makes a mistake, and if a crash occurs, their chance of survival is much higher.
Having 30km/h speed limits in communities has been proven to be effective in protecting vulnerable road users. They don't make a big difference to travel times for drivers, and have been shown to help increase the number of people who walk and cycle in their community, providing environmental and health benefits as well as improvements to safety.
Brake's NZ director Caroline Perry says: "The death of a child on the road is devastating. Slower speeds outside schools are essential to protect our children and young people on their way to and from school. 30km/h limits have safety, environmental and health benefits, and with our current terrible statistics for road deaths and injuries, emissions, and obesity, introducing more 30km/h limits is a win all-round. We know many parents fear taking their children to school on foot or bike because of fast traffic; lower limits help to both improve safety and encourage active travel.
"We're also reminding drivers to slow down and look out for kids. Children can make mistakes, and research shows they can't accurately assess a vehicle's speed, so drivers need to give the road their full attention. Many schools have lower speed limits around them but we urge drivers to commit to slowing down even further, to 30km/h, so they are much more likely to stop in time if a child runs out, and if they do hit, the child is far more likely to survive."
The charity is also reminding drivers that the speed limit when passing a stopped school bus in either direction is 20km/h.
"The speed limit around school buses is there to protect children. They sometimes make mistakes, but don't deserve to pay for it with their life. We're reminding all drivers of the importance of the school bus rule and calling on them to commit to following it."
Parents can also help protect their children by teaching key road safety messages such as: holding hands with young children; safety when crossing the road and using stop, look and listen; crossing only at designated crossing points, or if there aren't any, crossing at safe places, not on bends or between parked cars; taking headphones off and not using a phone when crossing.