SPEEDING statistics for the school zones in Orange show that an important message is not really getting through to enough motorists.
With the NSW government continuing to roll out flashing speed limit signs around school zones, road safety officials would have expected the number of drivers breaking the law to be falling.
In fact the data shows nothing of the sort. For the last two years the number of speeding drivers has remained stubbornly high, with more than twice as many as there were two years earlier.
Often police explain high numbers for some categories of crime as the result of more police activity or a greater willingness on the part of victims to report crimes.
But in the case of drivers caught speeding through 40km/h school zones it seems active policing over an extended period is only producing the same disappointing results.
Most speeding motorists are not being caught for clocking outrageous speed violations, speeds of 10 km/h or more over the 40km/h limit.
They are being clocked at speeds which in other areas of town would be acceptable but near schools demonstrate they are either not paying close attention or they think a speed just below the urban limit of 50km/h is good enough.
Either way they are missing the point of school zones.
Children are unpredictable pedestrians. They often do not make rational decisions about when to cross the road or wait for a car, and even when they do pause to look they are not good at calculating distance or the speed of an approaching vehicle.
Their size also makes them more likely to suffer a serious injury if they are struck by a car.
That is why the law puts the onus squarely on the shoulders of drivers to slow right down. Forty kilometres might seem agonisingly slow for a driver running late for work but it will seem terrifyingly fast if a child darts onto the road metres in front of their bonnet.