Pre-school safety check for buses
Whatever other worries come with the start of a new school year, Waikato children, parents and schools can rest easier knowing the region’s school buses have been inspected by police.
The Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit (CVIU) carried out checks on 192 buses throughout the Waikato and Bay of Plenty during January.
CVIU area manager Senior Sergeant Lex Soepnel said most companies were sound operations, but the checks were a timely reminder to businesses about the standards required.
‘‘Because of the number and age of passengers travelling on school buses, any steps we can take to reduce the risk of a crash are worthwhile,’’ he said.
‘‘By checking the maintenance of these vehicles before school starts, we can work with bus companies to ensure the safety of the region’s young people on their way to and from school.’’
As part of its focus on preventative policing, the unit visited 12 companies to check school buses were up to standard.
Although 72 faults were found, Mr Soepnel said most of these were relatively minor, such as loose but not dangerous seating, missing emergency exit signs and missing or expired fire extinguishers.
Companies were informed of the defects so these could be fixed before buses began their school runs.
‘‘It is not about waving a big stick at the bus companies. It’s about helping them maintain safe fleets – mechanically and in terms of health and safety.’’
Police are also being proactive about road safety around schools, applying a 4kmh speed limit tolerance during the peak pre- and post-school periods.
‘‘On average, 240 child pedestrians a year are killed or injured during the school terms. Lower speed limits near schools during peak drop-off and pick-up times aim to reduce this number,’’ he said.
‘‘Even at 50kmh, most drivers will travel 20 metres before they react and get their foot to the brake pedal. Overall, it will take 41m – nearly half a football field – to stop,’’ he said.