Calls for fresh approach on School Bus Death Toll
14 December 2007
For immediate release
RWNZ calls for fresh approach to tackling School Bus death toll
Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is calling for a fresh look at ways of keeping children safe after getting off school buses, following the death of a child near Hamilton earlier this week. He was the third child killed this year shortly after disembarking from a school bus.
Rural Women New Zealand is concerned that some drivers are either flagrantly ignoring or are unaware of the Road Code, which requires drivers to slow down to 20km/h when passing a bus displaying a “School” sign, whatever direction they are travelling in.
“Another issue is that on windy rural roads, some of which are unsealed, drivers may come across a school bus with little warning, making it dangerous or impossible to slow down to 20km/h in time,” says RWNZ national president, Margaret Chapman.
“We need to find ways of alerting drivers from a distance that a bus is slowing or has stopped to let passengers off, such as adopting overseas practice of having flashing lights on the front and rear of the bus.
“We also need to remind drivers of the speed limit - buses could display not just “School” signs but a bold 20kph sign as well,” says Ms Chapman.
From 1992 to 2001 nine children were killed as pedestrians off school buses, with a further 15 seriously injured.
“It’s tragic to think of the loss of young lives and the devastation for families that these statistics represent and disturbing to see the rise in the number of deaths this year,” says Ms Chapman.
RWNZ is calling for a multi-faceted approach to preventing school bus-related accidents. High visibility vests, regular school safety programmes for children and parents, driver education and visual means of alerting drivers that a school bus is stopping to let passengers off may all play a part in avoiding more deaths.