Engineered for safer speeds

We all want our kids to get to and from school safely.

Regrettably, our children have to share the road with drivers who are not in the mind-set to adapt their speed, even when our kids are around.

Wide streets and wide traffic lanes cause drivers to go faster instinctively, but narrow streets and narrow lanes have the opposite effect, they slow vehicles down.

Many of our residential streets are too wide and as such induce inappropriate and unsafe speeds.

Puriri Street is one of them –12 metres wide with lane widths of 4 metres each (and this excludes kerb side parking). Traffic data gathered in recent years recorded mean speeds of 55km/h on this street. 30km/h is about the maximum survivable speed for a child if hit by a car.

Road signs like speed limit signs and other warning signs are in many ways ineffective to control behaviour. Waikato University have done studies that show that only 1 in 10 drivers read road signs!

Here the warning signs were “put in the drivers face” on the newly installed islands.

This zone was created to clearly define an area where drivers should expect children to be gathered, at the school.

It was designed to effect slower speeds, with the added benefit of creating an extra buffer space between travelling vehicles and children on the street fringes.

By narrowing the lane, and not having a centre line, the expected outcome is that drivers would feel "uneasy" and therefore instinctively slow down when going through this zone.

Contrary to people’s beliefs, a pedestrian (Zebra) crossing is not a really a safer option. It gives people a false sense of safety because they assume motorists will stop for them.

Distracted drivers, (and there are many!), may not notice a pedestrian crossing, which could end up in a tragedy. A few years ago, a man was killed while crossing Selwyn Street at a zebra crossing. He was riding a mobility scooter. The low pedestrian numbers do not warrant a zebra crossing here.

Slow down to about 20km/h just as you would when approaching a stationary school bus and you will find this road layout will be no problem or challenge at all.

Safer Journeys

Daniel NaudéRoad Safety Coordinator