Government told speed plan could cost $90,000 per school, campaigner calls proposed changes 'criminal'

Newshub can reveal Waka Kotahi has estimated the cost of installing electronic signs to slow drivers down during school drop-off and pick up times could cost $90,000 per school   

The Government wants to introduce mandatory variable speeds outside schools, but the Transport Minister is adamant his plan can be more cost-effective because he'll use cheaper signs.  

Road safety campaigner Lucinda Rees wants all speeds permanently reduced to 30km/h outside all schools.  

"It's up to the children to make their way to school and for us to look after the children," she said. 

The high-speed highway outside Ashley School in Rangiora is reduced to 60km/h during school pickup and drop off.   

The new Transport Minister wants all schools to have variable speeds and for cars to drive even slower during those times.  

"I'm saying 30 km/h or 40 km/h during pick up or drop off times," Simeon Brown said.   

But in bringing in the blanket rule, Brown will take away communities' ability to reduce speeds 30km an hour at all times of the day outside schools.  

"We need to make sure we're getting the balance right between safety and getting traffic moving," he said.   

But Rees said it's not good enough.  

"What the current Government is doing is criminal," she said.   

University of Auckland research shows if a car hits a vulnerable road user, like a small child, at 60km/h, there's a 0 percent chance of survival. At 50 km/h there's a 20 percent chance of survival, and at 30km/h there's a 90 percent chance of survival.  

"There are a range of statistics in terms of what happens based on physics about what happens when someone's hit by a car," said Brown.    

The Greens' Julie-Anne Genter said it's "just nonsense to think that we can balance the independence and freedom and safety of our kids with a couple of seconds of time saving for a car that's going to have to stop at the intersection anyway".  

There's also a big cost which comes with Brown's plan.  

Newshub can reveal Waka Kotahi advice says estimated the cost per school of designing, building, installing and maintaining electronic variable speed signs was $90,000 per school.  

"It'd be a lot cheaper than that because we won't be requiring electronic signs which are a lot more expensive, we're confident this will be a lot cheaper than that," said Brown.    

Rees said: "Anything that they undo will just cost and it will not just cost money, it will also cost lives."