Media Release 31 January 2012
Family First NZ is joining the call for the speed limit to be dropped to 40km/h around all schools – including all rural schools, and for greater awareness of the speed limit when passing buses dropping off students. The call comes as children head back to school this week.
“There have already been far too many injuries and fatalities around school gates and school buses, and perhaps many more ‘near-misses’. Many drivers may be completely unaware of the speed limit of 20km/h when passing buses dropping off children, and more needs to be done to raise awareness and enforce this limit – especially considering that in rural areas, the open speed limit can be up to 100km/h,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“It should be standard practice for all buses to have an active 20km/h sign alerting passing motorists – as recommended by the Transport Engineering Research New Zealand Limited (TERNZ) last year.”
“And many rural schools have school gates on main roads where cars and trucks can legally hurtle past at 100km/h. This is another tragedy waiting to happening. We support the call for a nationwide law of 40km/h past all schools.”
Family First is supporting similar calls from many groups such as Rural Women NZ, the New Zealand Society of Paediatric Surgeons, Safe Kids, New Zealand Automobile Association, the National Council for Women of NZ, and the NZ School Trustees Association. Several coroners’ reports have recommended immediate action be taken.
In the 21 years from 1987 to 2007 inclusive, 22 children were killed, 45 were seriously injured and 91 received minor injuries when crossing the road to or from a school bus. According to the NZTA, in the five years between 2005–2009, there were a total of 1084 injuries including 5 fatalities to 5 to 17-year-olds from 865 crashes between 8-9.30am and 3-4.30pm within 250 metres of schools.
“Children can be unpredictable and distracted. It seems they are being left to play ‘Russian roulette’ with their lives because we haven’t understood the seriousness of the situation and the anxiety of parents. Yet there is a simple solution – a nationwide speed limit of 40km/h by schools, 20km/h when passing school buses,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“We would ask drivers to voluntarily adhere to this limit – for the sake of our children.”