Us­ing com­mon sense near schools

Matamata Chronicle - - Motoring -

With Mon­day, Jan­uary 30, the start of go­ing back to school for most chil­dren, the Mo­tor Trade As­so­ci­a­tion is urg­ing Mata­mata mo­torists to be ex­tra vig­i­lant around schools and child­care fa­cil­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly around peak school pick up and drop off times.

MTA spokes­woman, Ana Zandi said this was the start of a busy time for many par­ents.

‘‘ As well as the nor­mal wor­ries of drop­ping off and pick­ing up chil­dren, there is, for many, the ad­di­tional con­cern of things like sta­tionery lists, new uni­forms and out-of­school ac­tiv­i­ties to con­sider. It’s easy to be dis­tracted just by the sheer vol­ume of things to be think­ing about, hence peo­ple need to re­mind them­selves that they are back into their rou­tine,’’ Ms Zandi said.

Sta­tis­tics show that the peak times for ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing pedes­tri­ans co­in­cides with school drop-off and pick-up times – 8am to 9am and 3pm to 4pm.

‘‘ All drivers, not just par­ents, need to be to­tally aware of what’s hap­pen­ing around school zones, school buses and day­care cen­tres.’’ She said safety had to be the first pri­or­ity de­spite peo­ple typ­i­cally hav­ing a lot on their mind.

‘‘The rush to beat traf­fic and make ap­point­ments or start times can lead to drivers con­cen­trat­ing on their own needs at the ex­pense of chil­dren, stu­dents or other road users,’’ Ms Zandi said.

New Zealand, like many devel­oped coun­tries, has seen a shift in trans­port pat­terns around schools, es­pe­cially in re­cent years. Many more par­ents drive their chil­dren to and from school, and there is a grow­ing ten­dency for older sec­ondary stu­dents to have a car at school.

Both mean there is a lot more ac­tiv­ity and con­ges­tion around what are of­ten rel­a­tively lim­ited pick- up and drop-off points around schools.

In­stances of dou­ble park­ing, pas­sen­gers get­ting into and out of ve­hi­cles on the ‘‘wrong’’ side and ex­ces­sive speeds are com­mon­place out­side many schools.

‘‘ We urge those drop­ping chil­dren off at school or day­care cen­tres to be es­pe­cially care­ful as they start the year,’’ Ms Zandi said. Be­ing safe around such places should be a pri­or­ity all year round, she said.

Ob­serve the posted speed lim­its out­side schools and day­care cen­tres, typ­i­cally 30kmh.

En­sure that who­ever is driv­ing is ap­pro­pri­ately li­censed to carry pas­sen­gers.

Be fa­mil­iar with school or day­care pick-up and drop-off points and pro­ce­dures.

Don’t dou­ble park. It is a haz­ard at the best of times, and is es­pe­cially danger­ous where chil­dren can be dart­ing from be­tween parked ve­hi­cles.

Agree on safe pro­ce­dures for chil­dren be­ing picked up – where to stand, when to cross, which door to use.

Be es­pe­cially aware if you need to back your ve­hi­cle – chil­dren are hard to spot from in­side many ve­hi­cles.

En­sure chil­dren are prop­erly se­cured in ap­pro­pri­ate child safety seats. If you are un­sure whether the seats have been cor­rectly in­stalled, see your near­est MTA mem­ber.

SCHOOL SAFETY: With school start­ing soon, the Mo­tor Trade As­so­ci­a­tion is ask­ing mo­torists to take care while driv­ing near schools.

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