Speed limit reminder

School children in Omarama return to class on Monday, and motorists have been put on notice to keep their speed down.

Following continued problems with speeding motorists ignoring the 50kmh limit outside Omarama School, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has installed electronic speed feedback signs at the approach to the school on State Highway 8. Constable Nayland Smith, of Omarama, said he was hopeful the new signs would improve motoring behaviour.

''The signs were installed in late December and appear to be having the desired effect. Locals have commented that they have noted a drop in speeders going through the town.

''What I have seen has also been pretty promising.''

However, Const Smith said the the proof would be ''in the pudding'', and as part of a district-wide road policing campaign, speed checks would be conducted outside the school every day for the next two weeks.

A similar operation in November dished out 145 speeding tickets in two weeks, but Const Smith said he hoped there would be '' a big improvement'' this time.

He would also keep a close eye on the results of variable speed limit signs, which have been trialled at seven rural schools by NZTA.

The signs, which allow schools to lower speed limits outside school premises during drop-off and pick-up times, are expected to be rolled out to another 16 schools by the end of the year. None of the selected schools are in Otago.

Southern District Highway Patrol Senior Sergeant Steve Larking said police throughout Otago would be out in force next week at the start of the new school year, as part of a three-week operation and warned that anyone travelling at 5kmh over school zone speed limits would be issued with an infringement notice.

Snr Sgt Larking said the 20kmh speed restriction on vehicles passing a stationary school bus that had stopped to pick up or drop off pupils, would also be strictly enforced.

''Our aim is to prevent fatal and injury crashes involving children around schools.

''It's a new term and a new start for some students so we need to be extra careful with our driving habits around schools. Parents need to be mindful of not double parking or parking on yellow lines when dropping students off and give themselves plenty of time to get children to school safely.''

- andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz

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