School bus check finds faults

MARYANNE TWENTYMAN
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2013

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A month-long inspection of school buses around the region uncovered 72 faults across 12 companies in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions last month.

And while the majority of faults found were considered minor, commercial vehicle investigation unit Senior Sergeant Lex Soepnel said they were a timely reminder for businesses about the standards required.

"Because of the number and age of passengers travelling on school buses, any steps we can take to reduce the risk of a crash are worthwhile," he said.

The unit carried out checks on 192 buses throughout Waikato and Bay of Plenty during January and found most companies were "sound operations".

"By checking the maintenance of these vehicles before school starts, we can work with bus companies to ensure the safety of the region's young people on their way to and from school."

Although 72 faults were found, Mr Soepnel said most of these were relatively minor such as loose but not dangerous seating, missing emergency exit signs and missing or expired fire extinguishers.

Companies were informed of the defects so these could be fixed before buses began their school runs.

"It is not about waving a big stick at the bus companies. It's about helping them maintain safe fleets - mechanically and in terms of health and safety."

Police are also being proactive about road safety around schools, applying a 4kph speed limit tolerance during the peak pre and post-school periods.

"On average, 240 child pedestrians a year are killed or injured during the school terms. Lower speed limits near schools during peak drop-off and pick-up times aim to reduce this number."

Mr Soepnel said even at 50kph, most drivers will travel 20 metres before they react and get their foot to the brake pedal.

"Overall, it will take 41m - nearly half a football field - to stop," he said.

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- Waikato Times

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