Primary-school children are difficult to see, Michelle says, especially if they emerge from between parked cars, and they don’t have the cognitive skills to judge a vehicle’s speed.
Anne-Maree Kliman, president of the Victorian Principals Association, agrees. She says children are not only unpredictable, they don’t have the maturity to understand road rules or judge how fast cars are travelling.
“They have a see-go mentality. I see mum, I go to her, I don’t look both ways, I just cross [the road],” she says.
“We must have consistency across the state, so everyone knows that every school zone is 40kmh. We already protect the safety of emergency vehicles and construction workers [with a 40kmh limit], why not our children?”
Adolescents are also at risk, according to Sue Bell, president of the Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals. “Teenagers travel in groups, they’re distracted, self-absorbed, giggling and talking and aren’t always aware of what is going on around them,” she says.
“We need that extra edge of safety around schools and consistent 40kmh limits would do that.”
The executive officer of Parents Victoria, Gail McHardy, says her organisation fought to have the 40kmh school zones introduced decades ago and supports the introduction of state-wide uniform limits.
Harold Scruby of the Pedestrian Council of Australia says Victoria’s dual school-zone speed limits are confusing for drivers and setting a 60kmh limit in some school zones is “outrageous”.
A VicRoads spokesman acknowledges children are “some of our most vulnerable road users” but says each school is assessed individually in consultation with other authorities to set “safe speed limits”.
“School speed limits are assessed on a case-by-case basis and take many factors into account including crash history, traffic volumes, types of road users, the road environment and how the school is accessed,” he says.