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Student Council Launches Project 20K

October 8, 2004

Student Council Launches Project 20K

SLOW DOWN to 20km when passing a stationary school bus. That's the message promoted by a scheme initiated by the Wakatipu High School Student Council.

Project 20K has been researched, funded and executed by the student council and comes to fruition next Tuesday (October 12) when signs encouraging drivers to slow down to 20km while passing a loading or unloading school bus will be fixed to the back of all the district's school buses.

Wakatipu High School Student Council chairperson Olivia Hill said the student council had developed the scheme in response to concerns raised throughout the year about the safety of students getting on and off school buses.

"Senior students had witnessed a lack of driver acknowledgement for the law and were particularly concerned for the safety of primary school children who often have to get off or on buses close to speeding traffic."

The student council undertook research with the Land Transport Safety Authority (LTSA) and local police before deciding that signs fixed to school buses would be the most effective way of providing timely reminders to drivers.

"The project was given the thumbs up from the LTSA then Mike Blackwood from Imtech Queenstown assisted in securing Queenstown Lakes District Council funding of just over $4000 to pay for the signs."

Project 20K has the wholehearted support of local police. In a letter of support, Otago Rural Area Commander, Inspector Phil Jones personally thanked the student council for helping to make local roads safer.

"The police regularly field complaints relating to vehicles exceeding the speed limit past school buses which have stopped to load or unload children," said Inspector Jones.

He said most drivers prosecuted state an ignorance of the 20km speed limit past school buses that are loading or unloading.

The initiative is the first in the country by a student council and one the Council would like to see followed by other student groups.

"LTSA figures show that between 1993 and 2002 there were 12 fatalities, 20 serious injuries and 77 minor injuries associated with children moving away from, or approaching a school bus. We have prepared a Project 20K pack that will be made available to anyone wanting to promote the scheme and would like to think that this project could be adopted nationwide. It is a simple and inexpensive way of promoting child safety on the roads and could save lives," said Ms Hill.

Project 20K is to be launched at the Queenstown Events Centre on Tuesday, October 12 at 11.30am. Following the official launch - to be attended by Queenstown Lakes District Council Mayor Clive Geddes, chief executive Duncan Field and invited guests - the student council and bus drivers will affix signs to all school buses in the district which will be parked in the Events Centre car park for the occasion.

Media and public are invited to join the Wakatipu High School Student Council at the Events Centre for the launch of Project 20K and photo session on Tuesday October 12 at 11.30am. Tea and coffee will be served.

ENDS

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