Lower speed limits outside schools

"A lot of people are unaware there is a school here"

Last updated 05:00 03/04/2014
Kalsta Sofeni
SAFER ROADS: Kalsta Sofeni, 10, of St Pius X now knows her schoolmates are safer on the roads with the variable speed limit taking effect next month.

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Lower speed limits are taking effect outside three Taranaki schools next month to keep their students safer on the roads.

St Pius X, Frankley and Inglewood schools will have the 40kmh variable speed limit zones outside their respective main roads of Brooklands Rd, Tukapa St and Kelly St.

Brooklands Rd follows a downhill slope to Hori/Upjohn St intersection, while Tukapa St is located at the bottom of a dip with downhill slope on both approaches to the school.

Meanwhile, the Kelly St entrance to Inglewood Primary is located on the outside of a horizontal curve and is not immediately obvious to approaching traffic.

LED signs with the figure "40" along with four orange lights will flash when the speed zone is in operation.

St Pius X acting principal Pat Swanson hopes the new signs, with its flashing lights, will draw attention to motorists, prompting them to slow down as they near the school.

"A lot of people are unaware there is a school here and because of that they are probably going faster than they should," Swanson said.

Distracted drivers were also a hazard to school children. "Sometimes they're [the drivers] texting and sometimes it's just inattention," Swanson said. "We've had quite a few close calls with the children on the crossing."

Former principal Trish Walsh approached the New Plymouth District Council last year requesting for a speed restriction to be placed outside the school.

"The council's roading people did a traffic survey here, plotting the speed of cars and some cars clocked in close to 80kmh," Swanson said.

Swanson said Brooklands Rd was a very busy road and was one which would get busier with the building of a proposed supermarket on Hori St.

The school also encouraged its students to walk, scooter or cycle, so it was important its pupils were safe on the roads, Swanson said.

New Plymouth District Council roading programming engineer Steve Bowden said he has seen the benefits of having variable speed limits outside schools.

Highlands and Woodleigh are the other two schools with a variable speed sign outside.

"Drivers need to take notice of the speed limit when it's active and the traffic speed slows, which is exactly what we want during those periods." The variable speed zones take effect on May 5.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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