The way speed limits are set throughout New Zealand is changing. This means that decisions on speed management will be able to be made at a more localised level in the future. Setting safer speed limits to address specific issues and community concerns on our network is something that Council has new systems and tools available to implement.
This plan is our first step on this journey and we’re reviewing speeds around schools so that we can all do our part in keeping our kids safe when they’re travelling to and from school.
As part of this, we are consulting on a proposed Safer Speeds Around Schools principle for speed management, and how this will be managed on the roads around our schools.
We encourage you to read about our plans and have your say.
Why are we talking about speed?
Road safety risk can be reduced by investing in infrastructure improvements to make a road safer at current speeds, or by managing speeds through a combination of road design, risk targeted enforcement and education on safe behaviour, all reinforced by speed limits appropriate for the roads.
We align our road safety programmes with central government direction, research on road safety, learnings from crashes, local strategic direction and community outcomes, and the needs and interests of our communities.
Regardless of what causes an accident, we know higher speeds lead to more crashes and a greater chance of injury or death. In a crash, speed is the number one factor in determining your chance of survival or likelihood of serious injury. A small change in speed makes a big difference, especially when cyclists or pedestrians are involved. We are focussed on ensuring that all of our children can travel to and from school safely.
Speed Management Planning in Waitaki
This interim Speed Management Plan will help us transition from the way we have set speed limits in the past, to a new, more flexible approach that better acknowledges the local conditions and the surrounding environment.
Effective speed management is more than just setting speed limits, it is also about infrastructure and road design. Rather than looking at speed limit changes on a street-bystreet basis, this interim speed management plan establishes our first principle for speed management in our district. It identifies the changes we think are required to keep our children safe as they travel to and from school.
Later in the year, we will be preparing a Full Speed Management Plan to consider wider principles, appropriate speed changes and infrastructure changes to support road safety for the whole of our District roading network. Our future full Speed Management Plan will involve further community engagement and public consultation to formalise our speed management planning for the 2024-2027 period. This will include collaborating with Waka Kotahi (State Highways), and other Road Controlling Authorities such as the Department of Conservation.
Why are we talking about speed around schools?
Our children are some of our most vulnerable road users. We want to ensure that all children can travel to and from school safely and support all road users, whether they are walking, cycling or in vehicles.
One of the key action items in the Government’s direction on Road Strategy is to set safe speed limits around all schools by the end of 2027, with an interim target of 40% of schools by 30 June 2024.
Our interim speed management plan is being developed to meet this initial target, and to set our direction for all schools in our district.
Principle: Safer Speeds Around Schools
Safe speeds around kura/schools: Speed limits around kura/schools in Waitaki District are set to make it safer for children to get to school and home again. Safe speeds can be applied to schools through permanent or variable application (school drop off/pick up times), extending to a focus on our children’s journeys to and from school.
A lower speed limit decreases the chance of crashes occurring and reduces the injury severity if they do happen. This will reduce the risk for the students traveling to and from school.
How will this be applied?
The speed limit changes are no longer limited to just being outside the front gate, and are now focused on the journey to and from school. With this in mind, the Council has taken an area-wide approach around schools using a mix of permanent 30km/h and 60km/h speed limits as well as the option for variable speed limits on our busier roads that will operate for periods before and after school start and finish times to keep children travelling to and from school safe.
Applying safe speeds to our schools
We have assessed and prioritised speed changes as outlined below:
Category One Schools - Permanent 30km/h
- Macraes Moonlight School
- Hampden School
- Kakanui School
- Maheno School
- Totara School
- Weston School
- Papakaio School
- Duntroon School
- Waitaki Valley School
- Ōmārama School
Category Two Schools - Permanent 60km/h
Most of our Phase Two schools share the majority of the frontage with the State Highway, or journeys to and from school are closely connected to State Highway 1 in Oamaru and Palmerston. The speed limit outside these schools will change when Waka Kotahi produces their State Highway Speed Management Plan.
Ardgowan School and St Kevin’s College will have speed limits proposed in the full SMP, to align with planned infrastructure upgrades.
- Waitaki Girls’ High School
- East Otago High School
- Palmerston School
- Ōamaru Intermediate
- Te Pākihi o Maru
- St Joseph’s School (Ōamaru)
- St Kevin’s College (Ōamaru)
- Fenwick School
- Pembroke School (Ōamaru)
- Waitaki Boys’ High School
- Ardgowan School
Our phase two rural schools may have variable speed limits due to the nature of these rural roads and how students travel to and from school. A variable speed limit is when the speed limit can change due to the road and driving conditions. In this instance, the lower speed limit will be in operation for periods before and after school start and finish times.
What does this mean for our roads?
Research shows that speed limits in school zones are most effective between 300-500m long. Drivers are more likely to slow down if the zone is between these lengths. The maps we have prepared show what this would look like for our schools, however, the interim plan will enable the actual zones to be adjusted by Council if required.
Check out the maps below to see the areas where lower speeds are planned around our schools.
When will speeds change around our schools?
After Council considers consulation feedback and finalises our interim Speed Management Plan, we need to progress through Waka Kotahi certification and entry into the National Speed Limit Register.
We aim to have speed changes around our Phase One Schools implemented from 1 September 2023. Our Phase Two schools will be progressed in alignment with Waka Kotahi timeframes with implementation occuring as soon as practicable after this.
What about other roads?
This interim Speed Management Plan is the first step on our speed management journey. Once we have completed this stage, we will be considering how to manage safe speeds across our district.
Our second stage will be to develop our full Speed Management Plan which will outline our vision and priorities for speed management, establish further principles alongside our first principle of ‘Safer Speeds Around Schools’, and identify appropriate changes to speed on our wider network inline with these principles.
Any feedback you provide now, beyond Safe Speeds Around Schools, will inform our next step: the full Speed Management Plan. We will combine this with feedback we have already heard about speed and safety on our network.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why are you reducing speeds?
A. We are using local knowledge and data to make sure we have done everything we can to make our roads safer. Our aim is to make sure that our local roads have travel speeds that match the risk. Our first stage is focussed on safer speeds around schools.
Q. What is good speed management?
A. Good speed management is when technology, data, first-hand observation and local knowledge are used to inform interventions to make a road safer for everyone. This is why your feedback will help us understand if we have our proposals right or not. Efforts should be focussed on a combination of safe speeds, safe roads, safe cars and safe road users.
Q. Why aren’t you reviewing all speeds?
A. We will extend our speed management planning to review our whole district in the full Speed Management Plan we will be preparing later this year. As part of this, we will engage with the community to consider the speed management principles that should apply for Waitaki, and use these in informing appropriate speed changes and infrastructure changes to support road safety for the whole of our District roading network.
Q. Why are you doing this now?
A. Council believes that our children and young people have the right to travel safely to and from school. This is the first step in Waitaki’s speed management plannning, using the new guidance, tools, and legislation that apply for setting speed limits.
Q. You talk about vulnerable road users, what about the elderly?
A. We are progressing our speed management planning, with the second stage being a full Speed Management Plan. In this we will consider our whole district, adjacent land-use, and our types of roads and road users to ensure that we are protecting everyone on or near our roads.
Q. What about our early childhood centres and kindergartens?
A. Waka Kotahi and the Ministry of Education have led safer speeds around schools with a focus on primary, intermediate and high schools. While some early childhood centres and kindergartens located near a school will be covered by our Speed Management Plan, the Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2022 does not specifically require them to have lower speed limits at this stage. We welcome any feedback on other priority locations for speed changes and will consider this as we prepare our full Speed Management Plan.
Q. What our about other places where people are walking or cycling (town centres, recreation spaces, urupā/ cemeteries etc)?
A. We are progressing our speed management planning, with the second stage being a full Speed Management Plan. In this we will consider our whole district, activities, roads and users to ensure that we are protecting everyone on or near our roads.
Q. Does going a few km/h faster or slower actually make any difference to safety?
A. Yes, it does. Speed is the biggest factor between a correctable mistake and a fatal error.
Every extra kilometre per hour increases the likelihood of someone being killed or injured in a crash. Regardless of what causes a crash, speed plays a part.
In addition to this, studies carried out in New Zealand and across the world have established very strong evidence for ‘survivable speeds’ of crashes involving vehicles, and pedestrians and cyclists. A maximum speed of 30km/h equates to a survival rate of 90%, and is more than 99% for crashes at 20 km/h.
Q. How do you get drivers to slow down to the set safe speeds?
A. We have worked with the NZ Police in reviewing safe speeds around schools. Police will initially be involved in driver education of the new speed limits once they are in place. Enforcement of the new speed limits will then continue as per any other speed limit in NZ.
Q. What happens after Council agrees to adopt the interim speed management plan?
A. Once Council has adopted the Speed Management Plan, the plan will be submitted to the Director of Land Transport for certification. Staff will then be able to start implementing the changes as agreed in the interim plan. New signs will be installed to inform the road users and the change will be recorded in the National Speed limit register. It will then be enforceable by NZ Police from the effective date for each new speed limit.
Q. How have the extents of the school zones been chosen?
A. Research shows that speed limits in school zones are most effective between 300-500m long. Drivers tend to slow down if the zone is between these lengths. Our maps we have prepared below show what this would look like for all schools in the district, however, the interim plan will enable the actual zones to be adjusted by Council if required, through the consideration of submissions, hearings, and deliberations as part of public consultation and Council approval processes.
Q. What do you mean by Category One and Two Schools?
A. The national Speed Management Guide establishes the grouping of schools into two categories to determine the appropriate speed limit for their surrounding roads:
- Category One: most likely to be in urban areas where speed limits of 30km/h – either as a permanent speed limit, or a variable speed limit operating at either end of the school day at drop-off and pick-up times - are appropriate to the movement of traffic.
- Category Two: in rural areas of our network, with lower use of active modes, 40km/h, 50km/h, or 60km/h speeds and variable speeds operating when school traffic will be present are more appropriate for these schools.
Q. Why are you phasing implementation of safer speeds around schools?
A. We want to prioritise changes to keep our children safe as soon as we can. Our phase two schools share either some of the schools’ frontage with, or are on a local road a very short distance from, the State Highway. Journeys to and from school are closely connected to these State Highways (which includes a number of schools in Ōamaru and Palmerston urban centres), therefore we need to consider speed changes in collaboration with Waka Kotahi when they produce their Speed Management Plans.
Q. I’ve submitted on speed changes before, why aren’t these included?
A. As an initial step, we are focussed on safer speeds around schools. Soon we will be extending our speed management and review to our wider district. We will be considering all feedback we have received to date when we draft our full Speed Management Plan, which include previous submissions to the last Speed Limit Review, and feedback provided to Council through e-mail, phone calls, or discusisons with members of the Customer Services andRoading teams. All requests regarding speed limits from our communities will be considered in developing our speed management principles, and how these will apply to speeds across our district when we prepare our full Speed Management Plan.
What happens with my feedback?
Our Speed Management Plan and these speed limit changes is progressing through the following approval process:
- Pre-engagement with Schools and other stakeholders notifying them of the draft proposal was completed in January 2023.
- We are now engaging with our community about our draft interim Speed Management Plan.
- Consultation is open from Wednesday 3 March until 5pm on Friday, 31 March 2023.
- Feedback submitted through this consultation will be considered by Council as part of our final Interim Speed Management Plan.
- Plan approved - the final plan will be approved and adopted by Council in June this year. Following this, we will send our plan to Waka Kotahi for their approval.
- Implementation - we will implement our phase one speeds changes around schools and add these to the National Speed Limit Register, giving effect to these speeds from 1 September 2023.
- Our Full Speed Management Plan: We will be back in touch about wider speed management, our principles for speed management and appropriate safety and infrastructure changes as we prepare our full speed management plan at a later this year.