Thumbs up for lower speed limit

By Amy McGillivray


Speed limits at the start and end of the school day will be lowered outside three rural Bay schools.

Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced variable speed limit signs would be installed outside Kaimai School, Pyes Pa School and Pahoia School - lowering the limit by up to 30 km/h.

They are among 16 schools that will receive the signs this year, taking the total number of schools in the New Zealand Transport Agency trial to 23.

Pahoia School Board of Trustees chairman and father Steve McGregor said the school was "absolutely rapt" with the decision.

The electronic signs would lower the speed limit outside the school from 100km/h to 70km/h at the start and end of the school day.

"We're obviously really happy. We've been concerned about the intersection for quite a while and that's now being addressed. Also as a resident you notice the increase in traffic and speed."

Mr McGregor said there had been plenty of close calls outside the school over the years and parents were wary of the area.

Such a large drop in speed would undoubtedly make a difference, he said.

"Seventy kilometres an hour is quite a drop from 100km/h. People certainly slow down when they see 70km/h."

Pyes Pa School Board of Trustees member and mother Lorna Claydon said she was thrilled with the decision to install the electronic signs, which will lower the 80km/h speed limit to 60km/h during peak times.

"I still think 80 outside a primary school zone is too fast. It just takes one impulsive child," she said. "It's not something the board requested but we are in support of it.

"It's a busy road now. The volume of traffic going through the area has increased."

Mrs Claydon said the school's pupils rarely crossed the road as there was no need to but parents had to take their life in their hands when dropping off and picking kids up.

"The main issue is for the parents reversing and turning."

Signs will also be installed outside Kaimai School, reducing the limit from 100km/h to 70km/h.

Mr Bridges said road safety around schools was a major concern in many rural communities, where parents dropping off and picking up children must also deal with high-speed through traffic.

"The NZTA's evaluation of the trial has shown that the variable speed limits have been effective in reducing vehicle speeds both before and after school and in improving driver behaviour around schools," he said.

"It's quite clear it will make a difference in terms of reducing the speed but also improving drivers behaviour generally around these schools," he said. "These schools can be confident that once they get them they should stay there. I'm very confident they will certainly continue to ensure parents and children feel safer but it will also ensure they are in fact safer."

Western Bay police Senior Sergeant Ian Campion supported installing the signs.

"There's always a risk in those areas. Anything that reduces the risk around those school zones, whether it be rural or urban, is something police support."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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