Public feedback is open for Government-required speed limit changes
Published on 01 May 2023
One of the key actions in the Government’s national road safety plan is to ensure there are safe speed limits around all schools by the end of 2027.
As we are the local road controlling authority for Palmerston North, we are responsible for consulting with our community on the streets near each school where these speed limits would be in place. We have proposed what this could look like for schools around our city, and we are now seeking public feedback on whether we’ve got this right.
Our Elected Members will then make a final decision after hearing your feedback. Following this, we need to send our interim plan to Waka Kotahi – NZ Transport Agency for certification. We plan to have the proposed speed limits in place by June 2024.
Chief Planning Officer David Murphy says there have been 1332 crashes within 200 metres of Palmerston North schools in the last 10 years, which is why speed limit changes are no longer restricted to the school gate and are now focused on the journey to and from school.
The Government requires us to change speed limits on the streets around each school using a combination of permanent and variable speed limits. Variable speed limits are electronic signs that apply during school pick up and drop off times only – which we are proposing on our busier roads. Most of these lower speed limits will be 30km/h. A handful of schools in 70km/h areas will be reduced to 60km/h.
“We want our children to get to school safely, whether they drive, walk, scooter, bike or catch the bus. Driving at safer speeds is one way we can achieve this. We all need to play our part to make Palmerston North a safer city, where kids can confidently get to school, people feel less vulnerable crossing the street and roads are safe for all road users.”
Come to a drop-in session and have your say by Friday 2 June.
We are holding several drop-in sessions at schools across the city in May to make it easier for parents to ask our team any questions. A list of these is below and on our Safer Speeds around Schools webpage.
You can make a submission on the same webpage, which includes maps of the proposed changes for all schools in the city. You can also submit at a drop-in session or by requesting a feedback form at one of our libraries.
Mr Murphy says about 23 percent of all fatal and serious crashes in Palmerston North have inappropriate speed as a contributing factor to the crash and the outcome of the crash.
“We know reducing speed is the difference between a few broken bones and the loss of a life. If those drivers were travelling at a slower speed, those involved would have been more likely to walk away instead of being killed or suffering life changing injuries. Even when speed does not cause a crash, it’s always a factor in the severity of injury.”
The rule states new speed limit signs should be installed for at least 40 per cent of schools by June 2024, however, our interim plan is to have them all implemented by then.
The proposal to lower speed limits is supported by principals across the city.
Ross Intermediate Acting Principals Zayne Templeton and Geovanna Paine recall an incident outside the front of their school in which one of their pupils was pinned under a car at a pedestrian crossing.
“You just don’t forget that.”
Ms Paine says: “Schools weren’t designed around traffic needs. The issue is not outside the school gate, but it’s the surrounding roads that are of concern.”
Carncot Independent School Principal Owen Arnst says all his pupils are driven to and from school each day.
“Hence these drop off and pick up times are really critical times. We really all have a responsibility to look out for vulnerable road users. You don’t get a second chance.”
We’ll also be seeking feedback on more proposed speed changes soon.
The Government also requires us to look at speed limits in other busy areas, such as our city centre. We will be looking at those later this year and we will again seek public feedback.
Read more about the Government’s Road to Zero plan
The Government has a plan to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 40 per cent by 2030. To achieve this goal, they propose that safer speeds are needed.
The Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2022 came into effect on 19 May 2022. It introduces a new way of implementing speed management throughout New Zealand and makes the setting of speed limits more efficient for Councils, because it encourages a network-wide approach to setting speed limits and requires Councils to reduce speed limits around schools.
To read more about this work head to www.pncc.govt.nz/saferspeeds and to make a submission, visit www.pncc.govt.nz/saferschools.