The 40km/h electronic signs have been placed on either side of the road outside selected schools within the 50km/h urban speed zones.
"These new signs are part of the Council's commitment to keeping our community's school pupils safe and as free from risk of injury as possible", says Simon Cager, Infrastructure Investigations Engineer.
"They are designed to alert drivers to adjust their speed through school zones and have been successfully used in urban locations in Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch and extensively throughout Australia".
A total of 18 primary, intermediate and secondary schools on 14 sites have been selected, on roads classified as 'Priority 1'. The roading classifications are based on traffic volume and average traffic speed, in line with national guidelines. In some cases other entrances exist for schools on side streets. These side street locations have been assessed as having less traffic and lower traffic speeds. These side entrances may be included later in the programme once the success of the first stage has been evaluated.
In most cases these signs have been installed within footpaths or berms at a height that ensures they do not pose a hazard to pedestrians or traffic. The additional height of the signs ensures they are visible even if parked vehicles are present on the approach side.
"There's a lot of vehicle activity around schools and it's easy for drivers to be distracted", says Mr Cager. "These electronic signs are an extra aid for drivers to remember to slow down. We also hope they will make the journey to school safer for school pupils who want to walk and cycle to school".
Schools have been involved in the initiative and have helped inform parents of the change. The Council will evaluate drivers' reaction to the new signs and will consider whether they should be rolled out to more schools. The total cost of the project is $270,000.