As children return to school after the holidays, Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) reminds drivers to stick to the law and slow down to 20km/h when passing a stopped school bus.
Rural children are especially vulnerable when drivers speed past school buses, and children have been involved in a number of serious and fatal crashes. The speed limit is 20km/h when passing school buses that are stopped to drop off or pick up children. The rule applies whichever direction you are travelling in.
Drivers are also being reminded to slow down around schools and in communities. “Drivers need to pay attention to the speed limit of 20km/h when passing a bus that has stopped for children,” says Wendy McGowan, National President of RWNZ.
As advocates for safer rural roads, RWNZ has been supportive of trials of 20 km/h signs on school buses in Ashburton. NZTA southern regional director, Jim Harland says that a trial of 20km signs on school buses in Ashburton showed a reduction in the speed of traffic passing a school bus, which had stopped to let children on or off.
However, he also remarked that “earlier trials of signs without the support of the community and police, indicated that the speed variation of traffic passing school buses may increase the risk rather than improving safety.”
RWNZ encourages the community to obey the speed limit and encourages families to get involved in teaching children road safety messages. Brake NZ, the road safety charity have travel tips for families on their website (www.brake.org.nz). Advice includes young children holding hands when crossing roads, and teaching children to “stop, think, look, listen and live” before crossing roads. Other tips include children wearing high visibility vests and planning a safe route to cross roads.