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About 80 Dunedin schools were assessed for traffic problems under New Zealand Transport Agency criteria.
But only five schools - Carisbrook School, King's High School, Queen's High School, Kaikorai Valley College and Wakari School - met the criteria for speed reductions during peak traffic times.
Green Island School principal Steve Hayward said he would have liked a 40kmh speed zone around his school, and was hot under the collar when it missed out.
''This is bizarre. It's laughable. Why make exceptions?'' Mr Hayward said.
He said the Otago Primary Principals' Association met two Dunedin City Council representatives to discuss the issue, and were told the slower speed zones were not implemented outside schools such as Kaikorai Primary School and Columba College because traffic in the area was so heavy and congested that it slowed traffic naturally.
''There is a blanket bylaw at every school, between the hours of 2.45pm and 3.30pm, the speed limit is 40kmh.
''If we had a blanket ruling, there would be no need for the big signs and the flashing lights.''
He said even schools on dead-end streets needed the zoning because sooner or later, pupils had to cross a busy street to get to or from their school.
''Keep it simple.
''Why make it complicated and why make exceptions? It should be the same as driving past a [stationary] school bus - the speed limit is 20kmh.''
The 80 schools were assessed to determine if a 40kmh variable speed limit would reduce the risk to vulnerable road users.
The NZTA criteria included how many children walked, cycled, entered or exited vehicles along a school road; the speed limit on the road; if it was a main route; if there had been any accidents; and if physical constraints obscured lines of sight.
St Peter Chanel School principal Debbie Waldron said she was ''quite shocked and surprised'' only five schools were selected.
She said the school was on Main South Rd, which was very busy, and although there was a pedestrian crossing near the school, cars often ''whizzed'' past.
She said it scared ''the living daylights'' out of her to use the crossing on Main South Rd, let alone take children across it.
''I always wait to make absolutely sure that they [cars] stop.''
''A couple of times I've seen cars whizz by and I've thought crikey.''
She too believed there should be a blanket 40kmh speed zone around all schools.
East Taieri School principal Jennifer Horgan said she too had issues with speed on Gladstone Rd outside her school.
''It is a 50kmh zone but some cars don't observe that.''
She said a blanket 40kmh zone around schools would be desirable, but would be difficult to impose.
Taieri College principal David Hunter agreed.
He believed a blanket 40kmh zone would make more sense for drivers, but he questioned how it would work in reality.
Defining the boundaries of a school zone would be challenging, especially for larger schools, he said.
''There are a few more complexities in it than just saying where does the zone start and finish.''
He said technically, traffic should travel past Taieri College's front gates at 20kmh because there were up to six buses parked at the front gates when school finished, and the legal speed for passing a stationary school bus was 20kmh.
''It's not as simplistic as it sounds.''
Outram School principal Jeremy Marshall said the issue did not affect his school because it was surrounded by quiet residential streets.
Dunedin City Council senior traffic engineer Ron Minnema said defining the boundaries of a school zone would be challenging, and the cost of erecting signs prohibitive.
He said the council was working on other measures to slow traffic, such as judder bars, raised street tables and traffic lights at pedestrian crossings.
''We will provide different solutions to different problems for different schools.
''Just because we've done this, it doesn't mean that is it.
''We are going to continue looking at schools and different methods to reduce the risk.''
Public submissions on 40kmh zones will run from July 1 to August 1.
Changes, if confirmed, will be in place from February1.