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Focus on school road safety ahead of speed zone review

Focus on school road safety ahead of speed zone review
Police are redminding motorists to beaware that there will be children on the roads cycling to and from school, and they need to reduce speed to below 30kph when passing schools.

Police are urging the parents of school children to talk to their kids about the dangers of going to and from school.

Ashburton Senior Sergeant Janine Bowden says locals can expect an increased focus on road safety as school reopen this week.

“It is often a good idea for parents to walk the route to and from school with their children and ensure they know safe places to cross the road and hazards to look out for.

“If parents are taking their children to school, please be mindful of the school drop off and pick up points and adhere to the road rules and signage.”

While parents and caregivers are being encouraged to pass on the road safety tips to students, road safety around schools is a two-way street and motorists also need to be aware, Bowden said.

“Our advice for motorists is to be alert, as children can sometimes be hard to see in and around cars and be mindful that new entrants and younger children can be unpredictable in and around our roads.”

In Mid Canterbury there are 30kph speed limits outside all schools during pick up and drop off times.

At most rural schools it is enforced by an electronic variable sign but around the urban schools, and two rural schools, there are permanent 30kph zones.

“Keep to the 30kph speed limit when passing schools, and 20kph speed limit when passing a stationary school bus,” Bowden said.

“Where appropriate, police will take enforcement action in the form of infringement notices.”

There has been plenty of community discussion around the introduction of the 30kph urban school speed zones.

Councillors raised concerns that the felt they were not being adhered to outside of school hours.

The 30kph limits, introduced in July last year, are set to be reviewed by the council in February after Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown said he believed they were not working after just two months.

The council had wanted time-specific school speed zones but the legislation required a permanent speed or electronic variable signs – that cost an estimated $10,000 per sign.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown announced in December the Government is amending the speed limit rules, including allowing variable speed limits on roads approaching schools during pick-up and drop-off times, rather than permanent reductions.

School zone speeding

Under 1% of speeding tickets issued in the Ashburton District in between July and December were for drivers breaching the 30kph urban school speed zones. Only 13 (0.7%) of the 1,744 speeding infringement notices were for drivers exceeding the school speed limits, and all 13 were issued on Walnut Avenue.

By Jonathan Leask