It’s a busy time on the roads at this time of the year, especially with kids heading back to school this week. With that in mind, the New Zealand Police and the Tasman District Council want to remind parents about keeping kids safe around the road.
The summer holidays are long, and this means that kids are out of practice at getting to and from school. It’s a good idea for parents to sit down with their kids, as they may have forgotten some of the basics of road safety, and some children might be starting school for the first time.” Says Inspector Peter McKennie, operations manager for the National Road Policing Centre,
“Help them choose the safest route to school and do some practice walks or bikes with them. It is important to remind them that any time they are crossing the road they must stop, look, and listen for any cars, motorbikes, or cyclists before they step out.”
There is also a reminder for motorists to take extra care on the road at this time of the year, especially when travelling near schools during school hours. Small increases in speed can make a big difference in stopping distance, and that can mean life or death for pedestrians. “How you drive makes the difference,” Inspector McKennie says.
“The main message is simple, slow down and look out for kids,” says Megan Bell, Road safety liaison for the Tasman District Council. Reducing speed to 40km/h around schools provides an increased reaction time for drivers, meaning they can identify potential hazards and react quickly.
Megan says that it is important to remember that the speed limit for passing a stationary school bus while children are getting on and off is 20 km per hour. This limit applies no matter which direction you are travelling in, and she says that this is an area of focus for the council and the police this year. “The police will be enforcing this pretty strictly this year.”
Parents can do small things to try and minimize the numer of times children have to cross the road. If dropping them off to a school bus, try and do it so that they are on the same side as the bus. This will cut out the need for the child to cross the road, minimizing risk. Remember to think about visibility.