New report supports RWNZ's call for 20kmh flashing signs for school buses

Thursday 10 November 2011, 7:08AM

By Rural Women New Zealand


Rural Women New Zealand’s push for 20kmh flashing signs to be fitted to all school buses got a boost last week with the release by the New Zealand Transport Agency of new research that shows encouraging driver reaction to the signs.

“The report on the trial is exciting because it shows that, as we had expected, the flashing 20kmh signs have a significant effect on reducing traffic speed around school buses,” says Rural Women New Zealand’s National President, Liz Evans. "Now we'd like to see these signs approved by NZTA so we can get them on all school buses."

She says rural children are particularly vulnerable when drivers fail to slow down, with 23 children killed in the last 23 years crossing the road to or from school buses.

"These brightly-lit 20kmh signs are vital to increase the visibility of school buses and remind drivers of the speed limit when passing.”

Rural Women New Zealand held a stakeholder forum in Wellington last Friday, when Transport Engineering Research New Zealand (TERNZ) presented the results of its 20kmh school bus signage research and distributed its report.

There was wide-ranging support at the forum for TERNZ’s recommendation that, as a first step, 50 buses in one area should be fitted with illuminated 20kmh signs, alongside a publicity campaign to raise driver awareness.

In the long run members of the forum called for 20kmh active signs to be fitted to all school buses.

Lisa Collins, whose son Grant was killed off a school bus in Kaitaia in 2008, attended the Wellington forum.

She says, “Being part of the forum was wonderful and inspirational, as I can see that so many people share the same passion.

“I am so happy to be able to share the tragic loss of Grant, to raise awareness and ultimately support change that will in some way help prevent our young children and their families going through the same painful journey that we will always live with. For one moment Grant forgot to think, and that moment cost him his life.”

Representatives of Government agencies, injury prevention and child safety organisations provided further valuable input to the forum.

The signs recommended by TERNZ would cost $422 each, plus installation costs, and would be mounted on the front and rear of the bus.

There are approximately 2,500 school buses operating on 1700 school bus routes around the country.

Rural Women New Zealand suggests that the cost of the signs could come from the Road Safety Trust, which has around $6 million in reserves for community-based road safety projects.

The release of the TERNZ report follows an accident when a pupil was struck by a school bus in Kaitaia last week, and a rear end crash between a logging truck and a school bus in Ruatoki in September, when 36 children were injured.