Phillipa Cameron is driving many extra kilometres to keep her children safe:
Philippa Cameron will continue driving a 64km round trip to Kurow twice a day until she can be assured her young daughters will be safely belted in on their school bus ride.
The Otematata mother, who has more than 16,900 followers on her Instagram page What’s for Smoko, has launched a petition to get seatbelts on school buses and has managed to collect about 3000 signatures so far.
The issue made its way on to Mrs Cameron’s radar about a year ago, when her eldest daughter Flora was about to turn 5.
“I was that new mum who was looking at how my daughter was going to get to school,” she said.
It was unacceptable to Mrs Cameron that her small child, who was legally required to be in a carseat when travelling by car, could climb on to a school bus and travel along country roads at high speeds, without any type of restraint.
It is risky enough in town at speeds up to 50kph, it’s much more dangerous on country roads and highways at much higher speeds.
She was not the only mother concerned about the issue, but she was one of the lucky ones who had the time to drive her children to their Kurow School, from Otematata Station, where her and husband Joe live.
“Then you’ve got the mothers who are in a position that they can’t take their children. And then they’ve got this terrible mum guilt, you know.
“They have to put their kids on the bus and put their faith and trust in a driver, who gets to have a seatbelt, by the way.
“I feel their pain, because I understand why they have to put their children on the bus.”
In August last year, then Minister of Transport Phil Twyford had told her there was no change in sight for the laws, Mrs Cameron said.
Now new Transport Minister Michael Wood was saying the same thing, citing cost as the biggest hurdle. . .
What cost do you put on a child’s safety?
Given the law that puts so much responsibility on a person operating a business or enterprise to ensure all workers and customers are safe, how can it be legal to not have seatbelts on school buses – or any bus, come to that?
The petition has the support of Rural Women and Federated Farmers:
Federated Farmers transport and health & safety spokesperson Karen Williams is asking rural residents to sign a petition calling for a law change requiring seat belts in school buses. . .
Karen also believes the current situation is unacceptable.
“When our children are babies we invest in baby capsules, then car seats with 5 point harnesses, both rear facing and then forward facing as the baby’s neck gets stronger, and then lastly booster seats until they are tall enough to safely fit in the seat belt.”
“But when they turn five and get on a school bus, suddenly having a restraint doesn’t matter?
“School bus routes can include narrow, windy gravel roads, often busy with heavy trucks. The bus driver will be secured in a seatbelt, but one row back there’s nothing to buckle in the child passenger,” Karen said.
Radio NZ reported that two children were seriously injured and six others suffered minor injuries after a school bus crashed near Murchison last month. A week earlier four school students were injured after two buses crashed in Christchurch. In 2018, St John urged the government to make wearing seatbelts compulsory on some bus services after two people died and many others were injured in a spate of accidents. . .
The petition closes tomorrow.
You can sign it here.