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Speeding drivers put our kids at risk

PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
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More than 200 speeding tickets were issued in three hours outside Solway Primary School on one day in June, with one driver clocked going 85kmh in the 50kmh area.

That’s more than one speeding driver every minute, and authorities are calling for drivers to slow down as children’s lives are put at risk.

The drivers were snapped by a speed camera van stationed outside the school, on Ngaumutawa Rd, Masterton, from 9am to noon, on June 14,

One thousand and sixty-four vehicles passed the camera, with 238 vehicles issued infringements for exceeding the posted speed limit.

Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling said he was “incredibly disappointed and angry” with the latest statistics.

“Drivers need to change their attitudes and put safety at the top of their agenda when near our schools.

“One driver was checked at 85kmh near the school, which is plain reckless and life-threatening.

“A lot of the younger kids do not understand speed and stopping distances, and it is a driver’s legal and moral duty to slow down to protect our most vulnerable road users.”

So far this year, 22 pedestrians and cyclists have been killed on New Zealand roads.

Pauling said young children were sometimes unpredictable, and they deserved to be protected and not put at risk by careless drivers.

Senior Sergeant Simon de Wit, of the Wellington Road Policing unit, agreed the figures were unacceptable.

He said there was absolutely no excuse to speed near schools.

“It’s important to remember that children are vulnerable around roadways, as they are still learning to identify risks.

“We need to do everything we can to safeguard our tamariki as they walk or cycle to school – and that means slowing down.”

Solway Primary pupils on road patrol after school. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

Speed cameras must be stationed at preapproved sites, and cannot be located within 250 metres of a road speed change.

Some schools have 40kmh speed limits, but de Wit said this was generally at high risk locations or areas where there were ongoing issues.

He said police were working with Masterton District Council to address the issue at Solway Primary.

“There’s education, but also changing the environment to help people reduce speed.

“This could be speed bumps, a raised crossing, reducing the width of the road, there’s all sorts of measures that can be in place.”

Pauling said travelling at speed meant less reaction time.

“A young pedestrian has very little chance of survival if struck at speeds above 40kmh.”

He had a simple message for motorists: “Please think about that when driving near our schools and pedestrian crossings and just slow right down, before a tragedy occurs.”

Solway Primary School principal Mark Bridges said he was disappointed, but not surprised, by the number of speeding tickets issued in a matter of hours.

“Many people perceive that it’s about revenue collecting but it’s actually all about safety.”

The school has a school travel patrol operating at the pedestrian crossing outside, every morning and afternoon.

Bridges said no one would want to live with the consequences of a fatal or injury accident.

School Community Officer Senior Constable Julie Orr has been working closely with the region’s schools to ensure children were kept safe on roads.

“Kids are precious and they are important, and ultimately they could be crossing anywhere outside a school area, so you just have to be mindful.”

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