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Call for safety improvements on school buses

Media release


Call for safety improvements on school buses


School trustees and parents are urging MPs to take steps to make travelling to and from school on buses safer for students.

New Zealand School Trustees Association presented a submission at a select committee at parliament today calling for safety improvements on school buses. At the same time, a national petition in support of increased safety was also presented.

The petition, started by a group of concerned Bluff parents, has attracted about 5600 signatures. It calls for a law change so children can no longer legally stand in school bus aisles and must therefore be seated. The petition surfaced when parents discovered that their children were forced to stand in the aisle of a bus for 32 kilometres.

NZSTA deputy president Chris Haines says child safety is the number one issue, and NZSTA is also calling for seatbelts to be fitted in the front seats of all buses.

“NZSTA members and those who have signed the petition have made it extremely clear that they are concerned and a law change is needed to address those concerns. We are hoping that we get a fair hearing from those who can make a difference.”

Chris Haines says improving safety standards is about looking at what may happen, and taking steps to prevent it happening.

“We are looking at what could potentially happen within the current regulations and saying we want to minimise that danger. It is basically trying to be the fence at the top of the cliff – not the ambulance at the bottom.”

He says the petition has already resulted in positive changes with the parents working with Bluff bus operators to find a solution.

“Petition organisers say that by reshuffling operations the bus companies now only carry seated children. What’s more that has been achieved with no extra cost.”


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2/Call for safety improvement on school buses


In its submission to the select committee, petition organisers said current laws that allowed children to stand in the aisles did not reflect the changes in legislation for private vehicles and mini vans.

The submission also raised concerns over the current law setting a bad example for young people.

“Many of the secondary school pupils standing on our school buses will be the drivers of the future. We expect they will be responsible road users; sit in vehicles and wear seat belts and yet these rules do not apply to them when travelling in school buses. What message are we sending our adolescents when we must ensure they wear seat belts in vehicles travelling to the bus stop but then allow them to stand unrestrained in school buses?”

The submission says MPs have the opportunity to make a real difference to the safety of school children by changing the legislation – and it could be done in a cost-effective way.

[ends]

For more information contact Chris Haines.
Phone: (025) 387 903.


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