As another school year begins, drivers need to be increasingly vigilant of young children on the road. Whether around school zones or neighbourhoods where kids may be walking home, keep an eye out for school kids no matter how slow you're driving.
See the signs, slow down to 40km/h
As schools return throughout New South Wales, police are reminding motorists to slow down to 40km/h in designated school zones. This speed reduction applies from 8am to 9.30am and again as the school day ends between 2.30pm and 4pm.
Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay issued a statement warning drivers to consider their speed with the start of the new school term.
"As a Roads Minister, father and grandfather – nothing is more important than the safety of our most vulnerable and inexperienced road users, our children," says Mr Gay.
According to Mr Gay, all schools have been equipped with the appropriate markings and signage to clearly let motorists know when they are entering a school zone.
School zone signs and the flashing lights
Recently the government has been behind an initiative to roll out flashing lights, with all eligible schools set to receive lights by the end of the year. These flashing lights will be installed in metropolitan and regional areas.
The lights alert drivers to slow down as they enter a 40km/h school zone, with the SCHOOL ZONE sign bordered by two flashing lanterns with a fluorescent panel for added visibility.
Each of the school zone signs will show the school hours as well as the speed limit. Some of the new signs are also equipped for remote adjustments and maintenance with back-to-base technology.
According to Transport for NSW, research they have conducted shows that the lights are effective at reducing speed within school zones.
The 40km/h speed limit can make a big difference in the case of an accident.
"We know a vehicle that hits a pedestrian at 50km/h is twice as likely to cause a fatality as the same vehicle travelling at 40km/h," says Mr Gay, "which is why school zone speed limits are so important."
The flashing school zone signs have been added to schools throughout the Penrith area over the Christmas break, with Member for Penrith Stuart Ayres positive about the new additions.
"We know these lights are effective at slowing drivers down," says Mr Ayres, "so this is a big win for road safety across Penrith."
Keeping our kids safe
Mr Ayres also notes that the government is introducing new education programs to help kids become more safety conscious on our roads.
"Students are learning important road safety skills through our road safety programs including Safety Town, and we're putting information right in the hands of parents with our guide to school zone safety."
Transport for NSW counts over 1350 schools already supplied with flashing lights, with over 1500 additional schools to receive them by the end of 2015.
The gazetted school days (including development days) for NSW in 2015 are as follows:
• Term 1 – Eastern Division Tuesday 27 January - Thursday 2 April. Western Division Tuesday 3 February - Thursday 2 April
• Term 2 – Eastern and Western Divisions Monday 20 April - Friday 26 June
• Term 3 – Eastern and Western Divisions Monday 13 July - Friday 18 September
• Term 4 – Eastern and Western Divisions Tuesday 6 October - Friday 18 December
Please note that a Public Holiday which falls on a weekday is not considered a school day.
If you are returning to the school run, make sure your vehicle is in ship shape with paperwork in place to keep your journey smooth. For NSW drivers, this includes greenslips, or CTP insurance and registration. Click on this link if you have any queries about your green slip.