A 40km/hr school zone is a designated area around a school where motorists are legally required to slow down to 40km/hr.
Distinctive flashing lights and the orange number 40 set in a circle of red light against a black background are used to warn motorists of school children arriving and leaving the school grounds and to advise them that they are required to slow down to 40km/hr.
In 2000, the Christchurch City Council and Transit New Zealand introduced school zones at five Christchurch schools on a two-year trial. The signs have been so successful there are now 40km/hr school zones outside schools throughout the country. There is an on-going programme of installation outside Christchurch schools where other traffic calming measures are not considered appropriate or where they would not be as effective.
The 40km/hr flashing signs are positioned 150-200m on either side of the school road crossing as you approach the school. The signs are electronically controlled by a timer located in the school and operate at the beginning and end of the school day. Static signs are also located on intersection roads and within the school zone. Extra signs, such as school patrol signs, may also be used.
Every road and street adjoining every school in Christchurch has been assessed and prioritised for a 40km/hr school zone using the following criteria:
Because school roles and road environments change, schools can request that their roads be reassessed. This may result in changes to a school's priority for a 40km/hr school zone.
When a school is next in priority order for a 40km/hr school zone, the school is informed and the Board of Trustees is requested to make a formal application supporting the installation of signs. This application and a technical assessment of the roads around the schools are presented to the Council to formally resolve to install a 40km/hr school zone and allocate funding. The application must be supported by the NZ Transport Agency and the New Zealand Police. Other stakeholders that could be impacted by the zone are informed of the application. Any concerns raised through community consultation must be resolved before a 40km/hr school zone can be granted. When the application has met all the conditions the 40km/hr school zone is installed and the school is authorised by Council to operate it.