School bus with the flashing sign

Here’s a good idea: flashing 20km/h signs on all school buses.

These would light up 20 seconds before the bus stops and stay on for 20 seconds after it moves off. They’ve been developed locally and would only cost around $1000 to install on the front and back of each school bus.

The only problem is there are 2500 school buses … but Rural Women New Zealand is campaigning for the new signs to be fitted to every one of them. It points out that a single life lost on the roads has a “social cost” of $3.5 million (according to the Ministry of Transport) compared with the $2.5 million cost of fitting the signs. Then there’s $10 million sitting in the coffers of the Road Safety Trust from the sale of personalised number plates – we couldn’t think of a better use for this money.

The Road Code says drivers must pass a stationary school bus at no more than 20 km/h in either direction. This seems to be one of the road rules least likely to be obeyed – perhaps because it’s often not obvious that a school bus has stopped, especially when you’re approaching one at open-road speeds.

We go to great trouble and expense to alert motorists to road works with flashing signs, speed-limit signs, cones, and special high-tech warning trucks. Yet we rely on a small yellow “school bus” sign to protect our kids – and it doesn’t even tell you what speed limit applies.

Our view

  • The new flashing signs with the 20km/h speed limit on them should be approved by the New Zealand Transport Authority and added to school buses now.
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Who is paying! Posted by: Grant R 04 Nov 2011 10:51am

This annoys me! I am ALL for safety of our children and as this subject is close to me, who is paying? I know the law is 20kph when passing a stationary School Bus so why doesn't everyone else? $1000 per bus is a HUGE anount of money and it is unrealistic to assume that bus operators in NZ have these funds available. While this may be ok for a one and two bus operators out there but what if the company has a few, and what is the company is already investing heavily in brand new buses for our children? I love the concept but the cost is unrealisic.
If these rural ladies have so much time on their hands, why cant they actually find a simular but CHEAPER product? I challenge them to fine something for around $100 - $200 per bus, then they may be onto something. Come on ladies, dont just come up with an idea, complete the package.

Great idea... Posted by: Roger Bowman 02 Nov 2011 1:19pm

...it is easy to forget the need to slow right down, and try to recall what the speed limit is.

Great idea Posted by: DavidA 02 Nov 2011 1:06pm

But isn't one of the problems the fact that the law is a bit more than what you state - it mentions that people have to be embarking or disembarking, which seems an unnecessary distinction to me - I simply slow to 20ish when passing *any* stationary school bus. Must annoy the drivers behind me I'm sure.

Reply 1: Posted by: Consumer Staff 02 Nov 2011 3:57pm

Hi David
Yes - the road code says: "If a school bus has stopped to let children on or off, you must slow down and drive at 20km/h or less until you are well past the bus, no matter what direction you are coming from."

The flashing signs would be activated by the bus driver when kids were about to be picked up or dropped off. So, if it was a stationary empty bus, with no kids around, (and no speed limit sign on) you would not need to slow down and annoy those behind you.

"well past the bus" is a rather unclear rule and could replaced by something like "while the speed limit sign is flashing and you are within 100 metres"

Regards
Hamish Wilson
Research and Testing Manager

Speed cameras Posted by: Wright Tim 02 Nov 2011 12:50pm

Instead of flashing signs, how about a speed camera on the back of each bus. It could activate whenever the bus stops.

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