'Horror stories' spur road safety campaign

Sergeant Jim Corbett of the Thames Strategic Traffic Unit.
Sergeant Jim Corbett of the Thames Strategic Traffic Unit.

Too many ''horror stories'' about the risks to children using school buses has prompted a new road safety campaign in the Waikato.

Thames Strategic Traffic Unit sergeant Jim Corbett said the campaign to keep kids safe outside of schools was being driven by the community.

''School bus drivers have been coming in telling us horror stories about near misses involving cars not slowing down for stationary school buses,'' he said.

''When spoken to by Police many drivers claim ignorance of the requirement for vehicles travelling in both directions to slow down to 20km/h.''

He said it had become such a serious safety issue in Eastern Waikato that local transport companies had funded 20km/h speed signs for the rear windows of school buses in the Coromandel and Hauraki areas.

''And it's not just an Eastern Waikato problem. In the 21 years from 1987 to 2007 22 children were killed, 45 were seriously injured and 91 received minor injuries when crossing the road to or from a school bus.''

Matamata-Piako sergeant Neil Mansill said people in his area were well aware of the dangers, with Waikato's last school bus-related death happening on Matamata's Tower Rd in May 2009.

''That death involved a Matamata Intermediate student who got off the bus opposite his home and was hit by a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction in a 100 km/h speed zone,'' he said.

''It's been a case of good luck rather than good driver management since then with continuing near misses being reported to us.''

Police warn that children can be easily distracted and it was up to drivers to allow themselves enough time to react.

''The best way to do that is to comply with the requirement of reducing your speed around school buses dropping off or picking up children, a moment's hesitation can lead to a lifetime's regret,'' Mr Mansill said.