Po­lice get be­hind cam­paign

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By IRIS RID­DELL

Mata­mata-pi­ako po­lice are right on board with a cam­paign to have po­lice en­force the 20kmh speed limit past school buses.

Ru­ral Women New Zealand is en­cour­ag­ing po­lice to fol­low school buses to dis­cour­age driv­ers speed­ing past sta­tion­ary buses.

Sergeant Neil Man­sill of the Mata­mata-pi­ako Strate­gic Traf­fic Unit said they had been do­ing this for two years.

‘‘We do ac­tive en­force­ment, although we can’t be ev­ery­where at the same time. We want ev­ery­one to slow down past the schools and the buses, be­cause we will take en­force­ment ac­tion,’’ Mr Man­sill said.

‘‘The Mata­mata-pi­ako po­lice know what it’s like to at­tend a crash in­volv­ing a child from a school bus and we don’t want that to ever hap­pen again be­cause it’s not good on any­one.’’

Twelve-year-old Mata­mata In­ter­me­di­ate stu­dent Jor­dan East­gate was killed af­ter get­ting off a school bus in 2009.

His par­ents, Grant East­gate and Mandie Roband, have been cam­paign­ing for school bus safety ever since and pre­sented a 5550-sig­na­ture pe­ti­tion to the Gov­ern­ment in Septem­ber last year.

One fea­ture they would like to have in­tro­duced is a flash­ing 20kmh sign mounted in the back win­dow of all school buses.

Ru­ral Women NZ had given the sug­ges­tion their full back­ing, said Shirley Read, na­tional coun­cil­lor for the Waikato.

‘‘Ru­ral Women NZ has been try­ing to cham­pion it as an is­sue that does im­pact on lo­cal fam­i­lies,’’ she said. ‘‘Peo­ple are un­aware of the law and if it’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween a child be­ing killed or not and avoid­ing the dev­as­ta­tion not only for the fam­ily but also the per­son who hit the child, it’s well worth the in­vest­ment of time and en­ergy.’’

In 23 years, 23 chil­dren have been killed cross­ing the road to or from a school bus, 47 have been se­ri­ously in­jured and a fur­ther 92 have re­ceived mi­nor in­juries.

Eighty-five per cent of fa­tal­i­ties oc­cur on ru­ral roads.

Hin­uera School prin­ci­pal Dean Mcdon­nell said he al­ways slowed down when pass­ing a school bus and was amazed at how of­ten he was nearly rear-ended by other driv­ers. ‘‘As soon as I start slow­ing down for a bus, I watch my rear-vi­sion mir­ror like a hawk be­cause a lot of peo­ple just don’t see it. And 20kmh is re­ally slow – you’ve just got to make that con­scious ef­fort,’’ Mr Mcdon­nell said.

He said he nor­mally pumped his brakes when slow­ing down, to flash his brake lights and warn ve­hi­cles be­hind him.

‘‘I prob­a­bly do ex­actly what the signs will be do­ing and my first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence is that some­thing flash­ing does work.

‘‘If you make the choice to do the right thing and slow down, you need to be aware of other peo­ple on the road be­cause not ev­ery­one else will be.

‘‘The one thing all schools want to know is that their kids are as safe as they pos­si­bly can be.’’

Pay at­ten­tion: A school bus dur­ing a trial by TERNZ of ac­tive 20kmh flash­ing signs in Mata­mata.

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