Rural Women New Zealand says the recent accident in Canterbury, when a teen was hit crossing the road after getting off a school bus, may have been avoided if the bus had been fitted with flashing 20K signs.
Rural Women New Zealand took part in a trial of new LED signs in Ashburton last year, which included a public education and police enforcement campaign. The trial proved very successful in slowing drivers and Rural Women New Zealand hopes that the signs will be approved for general use on school buses in 2015.
“Rural Women NZ has been advocating for years for public awareness and driver education around school bus safety, especially the 20K speed limit in either direction. Using technology to get the message across to drivers has been a big part of our campaign.”
The ‘Either Way It’s 20K’ Ashburton trial saw a marked drop in speeds when the flashing 20K signs were operating.
“The flashing lights and illuminated signs are visible for a considerable distance, alerting drivers to slow down
especially in a 100kph zone.
“Every day motorists speed past school buses, putting children’s lives at risk on rural roads and non-urban State highways,” Mrs McGowan says.
The NZ Transport Agency agrees the results of the Ashburton trial are promising, provided they are widely and consistently used on entire school bus fleets, and supported by active and widespread community engagement and publicity.
The Transport Agency is in discussions with the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Education and Police on the possibility of wider use of the signs from next year.
In the meantime, Rural Women New Zealand urges drivers to be more vigilant and slow down to 20kp/h when passing a school bus in either direction.
“Children of all ages can be unpredictable. It only takes a moment of inattention for a child to dart across a road without looking or misjudge the speed and distance of an approaching vehicle.”
Since 1987 23 children have been killed in New Zealand when crossing the road to or from school buses. At least 47 more have been seriously injured.