Pre-school safety check for buses

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

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.

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