Dairy Flat School has successfully fought for re-inclusion in a national speed trial in a bid to improve road safety.
It's now among 23 rural schools the New Zealand Transport Agency has added to its extended school management speed trial programme for 2013.
The school was selected to be part of the agency's rural school management trial in February last year but was later excluded because it was considered a low priority.
Dairy Flat is petitioning for electronic driver signs and a speed limit reduction from 80kmh to 50kmh during peak school hours of 8.30am till 9am, and 2.45pm till 3.15pm to keep its students safe. The speed trial limit is set at 60kmh for schools in 80kmh zones. Dairy Flat School is between open road speed limits on State Highway 17, now called Dairy Flat Highway, and the Landfill Access Rd intersection.
"Naturally, we're pleased we were re-instated on the national trial for speed reduction," Dairy Flat School board of trustees chairman Martin Bradshaw says.
"And we're grateful for the support from Rodney Local Board member John McLean and Rodney MP Mark Mitchell for getting some action on this."
Mr Bradshaw says the speed reduction signs outside the school will make it safer for Dairy Flat Highway users.
The trial aims to improve road safety outside rural schools where the greatest risk of high-severity crash is associated with traffic turning in and out of the school or adjacent intersections. It also investigates if an appropriate speed environment for the turning traffic risk can be achieved using 60kmh or 70kmh.
Variable speed limits trials at rural schools began in early 2012 as part of the Government's Safer Journeys action plan. A speed limit of 70kmh is being trialled at schools on roads with a 100kmh speed limit and 60kmh for schools with an 80kmh speed limit.
Speeds will be displayed on electronic signs which allow the speed limit to be changed locally at agreed times.
Seven schools were involved with the initial trial.
"The NZTA's evaluation of the trial has shown the variable speed limits have been effective in reducing vehicle speeds both before and after school, and in improving driver behaviour around schools," associate transport minister Simon Bridges says.
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Drivers are urged to take care with many schools returning this week.
Police are targeting those travelling more than 4kmh over the speed limit around schools and school buses stopping to let pupils off or on, saying those caught will face fines.
The speed limit for passing a school bus is 20kmh both ways.
"If you travel more than 4kmh over the speed limit around schools and school buses during school hours you will be ticketed, no excuses," Sergeant John Roberts of the Rodney police strategic traffic unit says.
Mr Roberts says there have been numerous complaints of drivers speeding in the vicinity of the region's schools.
"Research shows that children have an undeveloped sense of risk and take a number of years to develop road sense."
Plunket also urges parents to watch for children heading back to school.
Children are to be in a restrained car seat or booster seat no matter how short the journey, Plunket's national child safety adviser Sue Campbell says.
"Turning 5 isn't a magical time to move out of a booster seat. Children are still way too small to fit the vehicle safety belt on its own," Ms Campbell says.
"The change coming to make child restraints compulsory until children are 7 reflects the importance of booster seat use way beyond 5."
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Lack of funds is standing in the way of two Hibiscus Coast girls' Italian dreams.
Whangaparaoa College year 13 students Lilly Ando and Emily Clarke are working hard to fundraise $13,200 each to go to Italy on an exchange programme with AFS New Zealand. AFS is a non-profit organisation which provides inter-cultural learning and volunteer opportunities for students, young adults, teachers and families through international exchange.
"We have both been working, and also doing a lot of fundraising such as raffles, seeking donations and auctions," the girls say.
"We both come from low income families but we feel if we put in the effort and with some help, we can make this experience a reality."
They held stalls at Silverdale's The Warehouse and the Orewa Craft and Market Bazaar selling raffles and cookies.
The girls have a Trade Me site under user name singintherain, listing items to be auctioned for their fundraiser.
Lilly and Emily are high achievers, gaining merits and excellences in both their NCEA levels 1 and 2. They are also completing their Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award gold award.
The girls have a blog, emandlils italianadventure.blogspot.co.nz; readers can visit to keep up-to-date with their fundraising.
Email the girls at em.and.lils. firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
- Rodney Times
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