New proposal to reduce speed limits around urban, rural school gets thumbs up from safety advocate, principal

Currently, there's no set, nationwide speed limit when it comes to travelling around schools in New Zealand.

The limits vary from place to place causing confusion for drivers and safety concerns for parents.

But a new Government proposal could change that, with the aim to reduce speed limits around urban and rural schools.

Wainui School in north Auckland is a country one. Rural footwear, stock feed, an idyllic setting, and cute sheep neighbours. It could be so peaceful - if it wasn't for the road. 

"This is a through road and a lot of trucks are coming through here from quarries, a lot of service vehicles as well as a lot of commuters now," says the school's principal Gillian Bray.

The road's speed limit is currently 80km/h. That was dropped from 100km/h six years ago. 

"People are driving fast," says Bray.

Now a new Government proposal would see speed limits outside rural schools reduced to a maximum of 60km/h. The speed limit around urban schools would be dropped to 30km/h or a maximum of 40km/h where appropriate.

"Councils have been moving to limits around 40km/h in recent years but one of the challenges we have that is under the current processes, councils have to go through very cumbersome and time-consuming bylaw processes," says Michael Wood, the Minister of Transport.

Road safety campaigners say making the change is a no brainer.

"At 30km/h if something unaccepted happens in front of a driver they have a really good chance of being able to stop in time," says Caroline Perry of Brake. 

"Say you hit at 43km/h, that's the equivalent impact of somebody falling from a third floor of a building."

At Wainui School, the principal says change is needed.

"It would slow everybody down," says Bray.

While children around Wainui School don't walk the rural road because it's too dangerous, the principal told Newshub reducing the speed to 60km/h an hour would make a huge difference to parents who currently struggle to get out of the driveway because of the fast, busy road.

Safety advocates say if drivers grumble at the changes, the research shows it actually doesn't add a huge amount of travel time, but it could make a difference between life and death.