Signs of the times

You can consider something to be perfectly smart — and sensible — and still wonder how things have got to a point where it is even necessary.

Take, for example, the recent news of the Government’s plan to address the issue of excessive driving speeds around our nation’s schools.

Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter announced a raft of changes, notably to speed limits, which would be cut to 40kmh (urban schools) and 60kmh (rural schools).

Those are not inconsiderable reductions, especially for rural schools accustomed to seeing vehicles — sometimes large ones — hurtling by the front gate while small children play just metres away.

Other incoming measures over the next decade will include electronic variable speed limits, wider footpaths and raised pedestrian crossings to ensure, as Ms Genter put it, New Zealand children gain ‘‘the freedom to walk and cycle to school and feel safe doing so’’.

This has been a hot topic for years. Many parents and caregivers have become reluctant to allow their children to travel to school independently because of the increasing danger — real or perceived — around busy roads.

So, it’s a smart move in the interests of child safety on the part of the Government. Who can possibly quibble about a few simple changes to make it easier for our young ones to get to and from school safely?

That being said, it must be seen as slightly deflating that it requires such things as a road sign flashing a lower speed limit outside a school during the key pick-up and drop-off times to get motorists to slow down.

What does that say about the lack of self-awareness in some of those behind the wheel?

It’s a school. School means children. Does that mean one should be preparing to travel right at the speed limit or, you know, considering going just a nudge slower for a hardly inconvenient period of 10 or 15 seconds?

Common sense is an old-fashioned concept but it is to be hoped it can still be applied where necessary — and there is no rocket science around taking care while driving past a school.

This doesn’t mean there should be any opposition to the proposed changes, of course. It’s just a mildly sad comment on modern society that it has come to this.

This also feels like merely the first step. The Government can introduce all the flashing speed limit signs it wants, but they will need monitoring — and drivers punished for breaching the limits — if they are to be truly effective.


A 20 metre exclusion zone in front of school gates should be implemented as well with a minimum $1000 fine if you park there





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