Preventing unnecessary injuries and deaths of children on our roads is a community-wide responsibility, a Rotorua police officer says.
Rotorua families, schools and police are being vigilant about children walking to and from school after three girls were struck by a car and seriously injured this week on one of Auckland's busiest roads.
Rotorua police Sergeant Chris McLeod said police received complaints about driver behaviour around schools between three and four times a week.
"Child safety on and around our roads is a very serious concern to us and we do put marked patrols out on a daily basis to ensure people are being responsible around schools."
Police also worked closely with schools to deliver road safety messages to children and help guide the road patrol programme.
"Teachers who assist children in the road patrol programme have clipboards on which they note parent/driver behaviour and report back to us.
"Unfortunately, we [police] can't always be there, so road safety needs to be treated as a community-wide responsibility, not just the responsibility of parents and schools."
Owhata Primary School principal and president of the Rotorua Principals Association Bob Stiles said many of his pupils walked to school.
"You don't see a lot of children walking by themselves. They do walk in packs and you often see their parents walking with them."
He said teachers and principals did everything within their power to promote road safety to their pupils.
"The most we can do is teach our pupils how to stay safe when walking to and from school, and hope that it will be enough to keep them from dangerous situations."
Mother of three Maxine Wharehinga said she was comfortable letting her 9-year-old son Krusharn walk to school by himself.
"On the first two days of school I walked with him, and made sure he knew how to be safe around roads and was familiar with the route to school.
"On his third day I asked if he wanted to walk by himself and he was really happy to."
Ms Wharehinga said she felt reassured that many Rotorua Intermediate students were familiar with Krusharn.
"It gives me peace of mind knowing Krusharn has friends at intermediate who are looking out for him and making sure he stays safe.
"Ultimately, it comes down to what the child is like and how responsible they are. I wouldn't let my 5-year-old daughter walk to school with her brother, because she's in a different head space."
People commenting on the Rotorua Daily Post Facebook page had mixed reactions as to whether children should be allowed to walk to school by themselves.
One said children had to be taught road safety and be responsible enough before they should be let out on their own.
"My son just started walking to school by himself. He's 10 and needs to be able to do things on his own now, and understands how important it is be vigilant around the roads. Five years old is definitely too young to be out without a parent or caregiver."
Another said it depended on the environment the children were walking in. "It all comes down to the speed of the road and the child. I have 11-year-old twins and a 7-year-old daughter. I don't let them walk to the bus on their own unless I have arranged with another parent to watch them cross the road, but we live on a fast road with a speed limit of 70km/h.
"Cars go 80 or even 90km/h past the bus stop. I would probably let my twins walk to the bus stop no problem, but not with the responsibility of a 7-year-old girl."
New Zealand School Speeds spokeswoman Lucinda Rees said the Government needed to ensure speed limits were consistently reduced outside schools to 30km/h at peak times.
"Safe speed limits outside schools would indicate to drivers what speed limit is safe near children. "Don't blame the parents and don't blame the driver [for accidents]. Put in place laws that make roads safer for children."