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New speed sign to keep school students safe

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New electronic speed limit signs will slow motorists to 40km/h as they travel on Nelson St State Highway 6 (SH 6) and McLauchlan Street past Marlborough Girls College and Bohally Intermediate School from this week, boosting safety for students.

The signs allow the school to temporarily reduce the speed limits outside the gate during pick-up and drop-off times.

Traffic going past the schools will be slowed from 50km/h to 40km/h from 8.15am until 8.55am before school starts, and from 2.55pm until 3.30pm, when children are going home.

The schools have been working in partnership with the NZ Transport Agency and Marlborough District Council to improve safety by making the school and its students more visible to motorists.

The installation of the variable speed signs completes the safety improvements that have been taking place over a number of years. These works include the installation of pedestrian crossing points on both McLauchlan St and Nelson St, as well as footpath improvements and changes to parking on McLauchlan St.

Transport Agency investigations have shown that for many New Zealand schools the main traffic safety issue is the risk of crashes with vehicles turning into or out of the school grounds to drop-off or pick-up students.

Transport Agency Acting Marlborough Roads Manager Steve Murrin says it is important that everyone shares responsibility for keeping vulnerable young people safe.

“People, including children, make mistakes on the road and crashes happen. By reducing speed limits at specified times before and after school, we’re aiming to reduce the risk of these crashes and keep the students and all other road users safe,” he says.

“By targeting motorists at times when school is starting and finishing, we can avoid complacency creeping in – drivers will know that when the electronic speed limit is up, that means children are around.

“By switching them on near the end of the term, motorists will have time to get used to them, and after the school holidays, some good habits will have formed.

“It’s up to all of us to share responsibility and play our part in making the transport system as safe as possible. Driving at lower speeds around schools when students are coming and going is part of that.”

Robin Dunn from Bike Walk Marlborough says they are delighted to see these safety signs installed, as Bike Walk Marlborough has been a strong supporter of safety sign provision around the district’s schools.

“Peak traffic flows are generated around school start and finish times, resulting in high traffic numbers along and across SH6.  Fortunately many MGC and Bohally students walk and cycle to college/school, considerably reducing traffic and parking issues.”

“The installation of new 40Km School Speed Zone signs will greatly assist in alerting drivers during peak times, increasing road users safety including walkers and cyclists along SH6 at the MacLachlan Street intersection.”

Marlborough Girls College principal Karen Stewart says, “We are very excited at about the switching on of the new 40km/h system. It has been great to have so much positive feedback from the local community and support for reducing traffic speeds at the key morning and afternoon times.  We would like to thank the community for their support and we know that this will help protect our young women as they travel to and from school.”

Shane Campbell, Principal of Bohall Intermediate School says, “We welcome the reduction in speed through this zone during the morning and afternoon when we have 1400 students entering and exiting the schools. The visual reminder will help enforce the awareness required through this zone for the safety of our students.“

The variable speed signs will be operational from June 25 and police will be monitoring compliance of speed through the area. They will be the second to be installed in the region; the first was at Fairhall School.

The Transport Agency’s efforts to manage speeds outside schools are part of its commitment to the Government’s road safety strategy Safer Journeys.

Safer Journeys adopts the world leading ‘Safe System’ approach to reducing unnecessary deaths and serious injuries from road crashes.

The Safe System approach aims to create an environment that is forgiving of human error so that people do not needlessly die or get seriously injured as the result of a simple mistake, such as misjudging the speed of an oncoming vehicle. It focuses on safer speeds, safer roads and roadsides, safer road use, and safer vehicles.

More information on this and other initiatives can be found on  www.saferjourneys.govt.nz/(external link)

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