Otago motorists are urged to take special care around schools
as pupils return to class this week.
The school year has begun for many and children throughout
the region will be beginning their first term for 2014 over
the coming days.
Police have reminded all motorists to be aware of increased
activity around schools.
Dunedin road policing manager Senior Sergeant Phil McDouall
said a road policing campaign would target excessive speed
around schools and on school bus routes until February 15.
''Our aim is to prevent fatal and injury crashes involving
children around schools,'' he said.
Snr Sgt McDouall said young children were not always aware of
everything happening around them, and could have difficulty
judging the speed of moving vehicles.
As well as primary-aged children walking and cycling to
school, many teenagers were learning to drive or driving to
school for the first time, and so it was essential for all
road users to be vigilant, he said.
National road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths
said children were the most vulnerable road users and they
needed to be safeguarded as traffic around schools returned
to normal levels.
''New pedestrians and cyclists are still building confidence
and don't have the ability to anticipate dangerous
He said there would be congestion around schools while people
got back into routines dropping off and picking up children.
Therefore, it was important for all motorists to be aware of
their speed and watch closely for children on and around
''This means sticking to the speed limit, giving cyclists
plenty of room and travelling at no more than 20kmh past a
stationary school bus.''
Motorists were also reminded about the permanent reduced 4kmh
speed tolerance around schools.
''Children can be unpredictable, so motorists need to be well
prepared to stop safely in and around school zones, Supt
''Returning to school is often an exciting time for kids, as
they rush to catch up with friends, so they can be easily
distracted and may not be paying as much attention to their
Parents were encouraged to re-establish safe walking and
cycling habits with children, even for familiar routes.
Supt Griffiths urged all drivers to be considerate and
sensible by not parking on yellow lines, in bus zones or
where it was unsafe to drop children off.
Motorways and other main routes might also experience
increased traffic congestion as the holidays came to an end,
In Dunedin, since 2009, there had been 295 crashes within
250m of schools, in the 90 minutes after 7.30am and 2.30pm,
between February and December.
Almost 40 of those involved children and teenagers, all
involved injury, and 16 involved pedestrians.
For the same period there were 31 such crashes in Waitaki and
nine in Clutha.
Safety around schools
• Be alert for children. They can be unpredictable.
• Remember the permanent 4kmh speed threshold.
• Slow down and stop at all intersections.
• Look for clues such as crossing guards, bicycles and
playgrounds, indicating children could be in the area.
• Scan between parked cars and other objects for signs that
children could dart into the road.
• Stop for school buses loading and unloading pupils. Allow
extra time to get to work or school.
• Young children should not walk to and from school alone.
• Involve children in selecting the safest route to school
• Practise the route so children become familiar with it.
• Teach children to stop, listen and look for approaching and
• Discuss the use of crossings and why some corners are safer
to cross at.
• Discuss the meaning of traffic signals and markings.
• Teach children to co-operate with police, school safety
patrollers and adult crossing guards.
• Ensure children get in and out of vehicles on the footpath
• Park away from yellow lines, intersections and driveways.
• Don't double park outside a school. Park further away if
necessary and walk with children to and from the school.
• Drive slowly outside schools and be prepared to stop in
case children dart out.
• Take extra care on wet days.