Fears for school kids
A child will be seriously hurt, if not killed, if drivers continue to speed past stationary school buses, a South Canterbury bus driver says.
Anthony McClutchie, who transports students of mainly high school age, witnessed one near-miss last week after a young girl stepped out behind his bus, despite a motorist coming towards her.
"She, with her head in the clouds, stepped out. I was just thankful the driver did slow down."
However, in many cases they did not, Mr McClutchie said.
Instead, many motorists continued to travel at the speed limit, without taking the 20kmh restriction into consideration when passing stationary buses.
No matter what direction motorists are travelling in, all must slow down to the 20kmh limit.
A sign upgrade on buses, featuring the generic school sign and flashing orange lights to remind motorists to slow down to the limit, had done little to improve the situation, he said.
He has filmed some driver behaviour so he could raise the issue with his boss. However, there was nothing they could do, he said. He also went to Timaru police and the NZ Transport Agency with his concerns.
The area near the Timaru Technology Education Centre, in Grey Rd, was a particularly bad spot, he said.
Mr McClutchie, who has been driving school buses for three years, also covers the Otaio and St Andrews areas.
He said motorists were more inclined to ignore the speed limit around buses in built-up areas and on the open road than those in more remote, rural areas.
"More slow down than not when you get out to Landsborough Rd and Pareora River Rd."
He believes the reason for that is rural motorists possibly know the children and their families. Those that do slow down on the open road are tanker drivers and the "occasional" car.
Mr McClutchie said teenagers took less care than primary school children, which was another of his concerns.
"We know teenagers know [to be careful], but they think they will be fine ..."
"They don't look when they come out the back of the school bus. I don't know how we haven't had any more incidents."
The Timaru Herald