School bus driv­ers fear­ful

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By NI­COLA STE­WART

Too many ‘‘hor­ror sto­ries’’ about the risks to chil­dren us­ing school buses has prompted a new road safety cam­paign in East Waikato.

Sergeants Jim Cor­bett of the Thames Strate­gic Traf­fic Unit and Neil Man­sill, his Mata­mata-Pi­ako coun­ter­part, said the cam­paign was be­ing driven by the community.

‘‘School bus driv­ers have been com­ing in telling us hor­ror sto­ries about near-misses in­volv­ing cars not slow­ing down for sta­tion­ary school buses,’’ said Mr Cor­bett.

‘‘When spo­ken to by po­lice many driv­ers claim ig­no­rance of the re­quire­ment for ve­hi­cles trav­el­ling in both direc­tions to slow down to 20kmh,’’ he said.

Mr Man­sill said the is­sue of safety around school buses was par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive in his area with the Waikato’s last school bus re­lated death tak­ing place in Mata­mata in May 2009.

Jor­dan East­gate, a 12-year-old stu­dent at Mata­mata In­ter­me­di­ate, was struck by a car af­ter he got off his school bus and be­gan to run across a 100kmh stretch of Tower Rd.

Par­ents Grant East­gate and Mandie Roband have spent the last three years fight­ing for ma­jor changes to im­prove safety around school buses.

They in­clude fit­ting flash­ing warn­ing lights on all school buses which are ac­ti­vated be­low a cer­tain speed and to make com­pul- sory the fit­ting of high-vis­i­bil­ity signs on buses dis­play­ing the 20kmh pass­ing limit.

‘‘It has been an on­go­ing con­cern for us as a fam­ily since Jor­dan’s ac­ci­dent,’’ said Ms Roband.

‘‘It’s dif­fi­cult for us to move on when we see peo­ple not ad­her­ing to the 20k rule.’’

The death of Mata­mata teenager Zak Lang in July this year had been hard for the fam­ily – Zak and Jor­dan went to in­ter­me­di­ate to­gether.

‘‘I know the cir­cum­stances are dif­fer­ent, but this community has lost two kids and a lot of peo­ple have lost two friends.

‘‘We don’t want it to hap­pen to an­other fam­ily.’’

Mr East­gate, a truck driver, said he fre­quently saw mo­torists break­ing the 20kmh rule, in par­tic­u­lar out­side Mata­mata Col­lege.

‘‘Some­one’s go­ing to be killed out­side that col­lege one day,’’ he said.

Mr Man­sill said it was a case of good luck rather than good driver man­age­ment that there had been no fur­ther deaths with ‘‘con­tin­u­ing’’ near- misses re­ported to po­lice.

Po­lice warn that chil­dren can be eas­ily dis­tracted and it was up to driv­ers to al­low them­selves enough time to re­act.

’’The best way to do that is to com­ply with the re­quire­ment of re­duc­ing your speed around school buses drop­ping off or pick­ing up chil­dren, a mo­ment’s hes­i­ta­tion can lead to a life­time’s re­gret,’’ Mr Man­sill said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.