Safe rural school speed limits call

Lee Stream School principal Rachelle Moors watches motorists travel on the open road outside her...
Lee Stream School principal Rachelle Moors watches motorists travel on the open road outside her school. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
Speed limits near rural schools need to be lower than a Government proposal, Rural Women New Zealand says.

Ministry of Transport mobility and safety manager Helen White said the Government was working on implementing a new Setting of Speed Limits Rule, which would require all road controlling authorities to transition to safer speed limits around schools by 2030.

Under this proposal, authorities must set the speed limit outside a rural school as either a variable speed limit — where 60kmh or slower was the speed limit in force during school travel periods — or to a maximum permanent speed limit of 60kmh.

Rural Women New Zealand education convener Malvina Dick said the 60kmh speed proposal was too fast.

She wanted the Government to reduce speed limits around rural schools to be 40kmh or slower.

"Rural children deserve to be safe from injurydf or death on their way to and from school," Ms Dick said.

Lee Stream School principal Rachelle Moors said the school’s board had been asking for speed calming measures to be installed on State Highway 87 for many years.

The speed limit outside the 26-pupil school — about 40km northwest of Dunedin — remains at 100kmh.

Motorists "travelled quickly" on the stretch of highway despite signs warning them they were approaching a school.

"Trucks zoom down here."

She believed many motorists would be unaware they had passed a school because it was hidden in the middle of mature shelter belts.

"We are not a visible school."

She doubted the Government would ever reduce speed limits past rural schools to 40kmh.

A speed limit drop between 70kmh and 80kmh and more signage to warn motorists of a school van operating in the area would be a good start.

Rural Women Middlemarch treasurer Pat Macauley, of Mosgiel, said Lee Stream School was a "classic example" of the need to reduce speed limits past rural schools.

Many motorists travelling past the school had a "fair head of steam on".

The speed limit should be reduced to 40kmh, Mrs Macauley said.

A motorist travelling at 100kmh would be unable to stop if a child getting off a school van ran on to the highway.

"They’d never be able to stop at the open road speed."

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