29 Jan 2013

Safety initiatives paying off for rural schools

8:48 am on 29 January 2013

After years of campaigning, Rural Women New Zealand has seen some progress on two rural school road safety initiatives.

The Government has decided to extend variable speed limits to 23 more rural schools after a successful trial at seven schools last year.

The variable speed limit, displayed on electronic signs, is set at 70km/h past schools in 100 km/h zones, and 60 km/h for schools in 80 km/h areas.

The Road Safety Trust has also approved funding for a trial of flashing signs on school buses, reminding drivers about the 20 km/h speed limit when passing a school bus that has stopped to let children on and off.

That trial will start on a school bus fleet in Ashburton in the next few weeks.

Rural Womens' president Liz Evans says the organisation is pleased that its efforts to promote safe speeds around rural schools are starting to have an impact.

"The New Zealand Transport Agency say that the variable speed limits have resulted in an improvement in driver behaviour and a reduction in speeds around the rural schools in particular."

The Government says the extension of variable speed limit signs will be part of a wider rural school safety programme, which includes assessing the road safety risk at schools and developing a guide for high risk schools.