The requirement to reduce your speed to 20 kilometres when passing a stationary school bus has been extended to 20 seconds before and after it stops if it’s displaying a flashing sign.
Calculating 20 seconds before the bus stopped would be more than a little difficult without a sign to signal it.
Rural Women are pleased with this decision and wants the government to take the next step and approve an active school bus sign that includes the 20 km/h limit.
“Our research shows that many New Zealand drivers, as well as tourists, are unaware of the 20kmh limit and are failing to slow down, making our children very vulnerable, especially on rural roads where there are no footpaths,” says RWNZ health spokesperson, Kerry Maw.
Current approved school bus signs include one of children crossing with flashing ‘wig wag’ lights, but there is no approved sign that includes the 20kmh speed limit.
Rural Women New Zealand has worked extensively with traffic engineering researchers who have developed an active 20kmh school bus sign, but the sign awaits approval from the NZ Transport Agency.
Testing of the prototype sign has shown it to be very effective in slowing drivers. Overseas research also supports the use of clear speed limit signage.
Rural communities have begun to raise funds for active 20kmh signs for their local school buses, and keenly await their approval and production.
“The number of children killed and injured after getting off school buses has not improved for 30 years, and behind every statistic is a devastated family,” says Mrs Maw.
“It is time we focused on every possible solution to ensure our school children are kept safe.”
The 20 km/h limit rule isn’t well understood and it’s not always easy to recognise a school bus when you’re travelling at open road speeds.
The requirement to have active signs warning of the limit would make it much easier to see the buses and make it much clearer to drivers that they have to slow down.