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It’s time the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) announced all school buses will be fitted immediately with flashing 20km/h signs. Between 1987 and 2007, 22 kids died, 45 were badly injured and 91 had minor injuries while crossing the road to or from a school bus. Isn’t that far too many? We told you about these signs in November 2011, after a trial showed they were effective. So what’s happened in the last 2½ years? NZTA decided to do a further trial.
And surprise, the signs work – just like the first trial. Drivers slow down and in many cases close to the 20km/h limit once the signs start flashing. If a child steps out in front of you from behind a bus and you’re doing 20km/h, you’ve probably got time to slow down or even stop. Injuries from impacts at 20km/h or less are potentially survivable as well.
At 88km/h, (the average speed studies show vehicles drive past stationary school buses) there’s no way you can stop in time – and there’s not much chance a child will survive the impact.
In 2011 we, along with the organisation Rural Women, asked for the signs to be introduced straightaway. We’re asking again – but we don’t think we should be. NZTA should just get on with installing them.