Road Safety takes the front seat as new academic year begins


Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, January 30, 2024

The start of the school year is often a memorable time for families and with the summer holidays over, families across New Zealand are ready with most of the children set to begin the new school year from this week.

As many excited tamariki prepare to reunite with friends, while some will be starting school for the first time, Police are urging parents to take the time to discuss with their children the potential dangers of going to and from school.

A recent social media post by the Police states, “Young children can be excitable and can be distracted when they are heading to and from school. That means they may forget to check before passing driveways, or miss hazards on the roads.”

“As teenagers they may be more prone to having their heads down in a phone, wearing earphones, and potentially not paying attention when they should be, such as when crossing a road.”

Encouraging to be Road Smart

“Parents set the best example for our young people on how to be safe and smart on our roads. It can often be overlooked but reminding or informing our children to check for vehicles by looking left and right and encouraging them to use the marked school crossing are important to keep them safe,” said Superintendent Steve Greally, Director of National Road Policing Centre.

“Protecting our children is always a priority and their safety around schools is a responsibility that every one of us plays a vital role in. We never want to see or hear of any unfortunate events that involve young people in and around schools, which is why parents must pass on these valuable safety tips,” Superintendent Greally added.

Quick reminders

While the police and schools across the country are doing their best to ensure every child can make it to and from school safe and unharmed, and Hamilton City Council is joining in the initiative.

Gordon Naidoo, Hamilton City Council’s City Transport Unit Director, is appealing for drivers to be courteous and sensible.

“We are asking everyone to be considerate. When parking at a school, do not park across driveways, footpaths, broken yellow lines, or no-stopping areas such as bus stops. Remember that it is illegal to park on a cycle lane.”

Mr Naidoo said that drivers should be aware of reduced speed limits around schools at drop-off and pick-up times.

“Children returning to school can be easily distracted by their surroundings. They may find it difficult to judge distances and could step into the road without warning. School patrol teams will be out at pedestrian and kea crossings. Make sure you look out for them and follow their signals. We are all in this together as a city. We want you and your family to travel safely and get home safe, every day.”

Safer roads

Hamilton has adopted a Vision Zero target when it comes to deaths on our city’s roads. Our approach is aligned with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Road to Zero road safety strategy for New Zealand.

A statement from the Council states, “Our wish is for everyone to take personal responsibility for themselves and those around them when moving from here to there, and from now into the future.”

“We want everyone who calls Hamilton home, or visits our city, to be safe when using our streets and roads. That means in our busy city we need the right speeds on the right roads for all, whether walking to the shops, biking to school, using micro-mobility devices, driving to work or making deliveries.”

Reminders for Road safety

Police are encouraging parents to talk to their children about how to be safe –

  • If your child will be going to school on their own for the first time, show them the safest route to get to school and back home and practice with them.
  • If you or your children are wearing earphones, take them out or mute them for a minute and if you are talking on the phone pause the conversation so that you can cross safely.
  • Encourage your children to use the marked school crossing whether that be a pedestrian crossing, kea crossing or their school traffic wardens.
  • Often drop off and pick up zones can be crowded before and after school. Suggesting a meeting point further down the road might be a safer option to avoid congestion around the area.
  • Take the time to show your children the safest route to get to school and back home and practice with them, including the safest places to cross.Remind them to look left and right and look out for cars.

Important reminders for all Drivers

Police would also like to remind parents and other drivers about the risks around schools and has urged them to be attentive, as children can often be unpredictable and appear out of nowhere.

Drivers should also be aware that there will be children on the roads cycling to and from school. Giving them space and share the road.

Another important reminder is that the speed limit is 20km/h when driving past a stationary school bus, and drivers need to reduce their speed below 30km/h when passing schools.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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