Will our school children get home healthy and safe?

Work Safe is promising adults to 'get you home healthy and safe', but little is being done for children who walk or cycle to school.  Lucinda Rees from NZ School Speeds says the Government is irresponsible, as there are no consistent rules in place to get school children home 'healthy and safe' and is calling on them to put rules place to protect our most vulnerable road users.

Road workers have speed limits of 30km/h and these speed limits are posted in many city centres where adults work.  Speed limits outside schools can be up to 100km/h, despite a recommended maximum speed limit of 30km/h at peak times.  When children head to school on their bikes, there are no rules to protect them from cars passing dangerously close on the road.  Currently there is only a 'suggested' passing distance; 1 metre is the recommended passing distance for vehicles driven up to 60km/h and 1.5 metres above 60km/h. 

The 8th to 14th May is Road Safety Week and presents an opportunity for the Government to act and put consistent road safety laws in place.  David Bennett the Associate Minister of Transport, responsible for road safety, will be aware of recommendations given by The World Health Organisation (WHO).  So far, the minister seems to have ignored road safety of our most vulnerable road users.  Last year Ms Rees sent correspondence to his department asking for their views on school road safety, but is still awaiting response.  With New Zealand's road toll creeping  up, Rees says, "Bennett and all of the Ministry of Transport have nothing to be proud of.  They need to take advice from countries like Germany, where rights of vulnerable road users were historically and still are paramount and their road toll reflects this."

School children are our future drivers and as walkers or cyclists will learn about road safety from the vulnerable road user point of view as they do in many European countries
The WHO recommended speed limit outside schools at peak times is a maximum speed limit of 30km/h 
With consistent speed limits outside schools, drivers will know what to expect when approaching school zones, making them safer for all
There is no mandatory passing distance of cyclists. The recommended cyclist passing distance for drivers is 1 metre up to 60km/h and 1.5 metres above that speed for cyclists 
Exercise is good for children and if they make their independent way to school it will benefit them in many ways
Perceptual judgment and motor skills are often not fully developed until age 14
Children are easily distracted and many teenagers feel invincible
Drivers are required to slow to 30km/h at road works for adult workers and many city centres
Schools buses loading or unloading passengers have a 20km/h speed limit and similar is needed outside schools
Travelling to school on foot or cycle is considered a high risk activity by many parents in New Zealand, so few children are allowed to travel independently
More children walking or cycling will reduce congestion outside schools

"According the WHO, 'Safe road systems consider the needs of all road users'." Rees continues, "After the Pike River tragedy rules were tightened around work safety.  Do we really need to wait for another tragedy for action to be taken?"

Contact:           Lucinda Rees
                         NZ School Speeds
                         Swannanoa, Christchurch, New Zealand
                         Ph: 03-312 6828 or 
                                021-073 2827
                         Email: nzschoolspeed@gmail.com
                         Twitter: @nzschoolspeeds


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Living Streets Aotearoa is the New Zealand organisation for people on foot, promoting walking-friendly communities. We are a nationwide organisation with local branches and affiliates throughout New Zealand.

We want more people walking and enjoying public spaces be they young or old, fast or slow, whether walking, sitting, commuting, shopping, between appointments, or out on the streets for exercise, for leisure or for pleasure.

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