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RWNZ School Bus Safety campaign

Kill the Speed not the Child

The speed when passing a stationary school bus in either direction is 20kmh.

Clearly the motorist caught on radar in this photo wasn't aware of that.  Our research has shown the majority of drivers are in the same position.

Here are some readings of the speeds of cars passing a school bus on SH58 near Pauatahanui, north of Wellington.  These speeds are in line with other surveys conducted by Transport Engineering Research New Zealand (TERNZ) who recently completed a report for BUSSTAC on ways of improving the safety of children using school buses commissioned by the Secretary of Education (August 09).

Rural Women New Zealand along with other interested groups had input into that report. 

We are calling for flashing lights and 20kmh signs to be installed on all buses when they are operating as a school bus.  This is in line with the requirements of other places, such as New South Wales.

Further information


Why is Rural Women New Zealand campaigning?

Because children are being hurt and killed around School buses:

  • Between 1993 and 2002 twelve children were killed, 20 seriously injured and 77 received minor injuries as a result of school bus incidents.
  • In the last two years four children were killed after getting off school buses.
  • For every child killed in such accidents more are injured, many of them seriously, resulting in life-long disabilities and health issues.

How are children being killed or injured around School buses?

Children are hit by vehicles, often being driven at well above the 20km/h speed limit for passing a School bus that has stopped to let children on or off.

  • If a person is hit by a vehicle at 20km/h they have a 5% risk of dying. 
  • If a person is struck at 70km/h they have a 99% chance of being killed.
  • Many drivers are unaware of the 20km/h speed limit, or do not observe this rule.
  • Drivers may not realise that a bus is operating as a School bus until it is too late to slow down.

What do we want?

Rural Women New Zealand wants ‘20km/h when lights flashing’ signs and
flashing ‘wig wag’ lights to be installed on all buses that operate on School bus routes (ie the system used in NSW, Australia).

  • The flashing lights would automatically activate when the School bus is slowing or pulling away, or had stopped for children to get on or off (ie the system used in NSW, Australia).

Change to the official signage will take time.  Communities may be able to organise advertising signs in School bus windows and on bus shelters to raise awareness of the 20km/h rule.  RWNZ may be able to assist with information, designs etc.


What is the current law about signs on School buses?

School buses must display an approved ‘School’ sign, or an ‘active sign’ incorporating flashing lights.

The currently approved signs do not include the 20km/h speed limit.

The active signs are operated manually by the driver.


Can School buses display a 20km/h sign?

NZTA has said School buses may display advertising signs in their windows (for example) saying:

‘20km/h past a stationary school bus’

Buses may not use the official 20 speed limit sign for this purpose.


What can you do?


RWNZ can supply artwork for signs to go on bus shelters or on billboards.  Your logo, or that of other sponsors can be added.  Contact

  • Talk to your local School and bus company. 
  • Ride your School bus and observe what is happening in your community.
  • Arrange for advertising signs to be made to fit in the back window of your School buses, if your company agrees to display one. 
  • Arrange for advertising signs to be displayed on bus stops/shelters on the School bus run.  RWNZ can supply the artwork, as per signs above.
  • Talk to your Road Safety Co-ordinator or ACC regional office about available funding to produce such signs.
  • Contact the Police and ask them to enforce the 20km/h rule
  • Contact your local community newspaper, radio, etc to raise awareness of the 20km/h rule and community initiatives and / or the Police enforcement campaign.




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