Tranzit staff during promotion to highlight 20kmh speed limit when passing stationary school buses. From left, Ethan Tickner, Jenna Snelgrove, Helen Tickner. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

STEVE RENDLE
steve.rendle@age.co.nz

Tranzit bus drivers have had enough of other motorists speeding past when they’re picking up and dropping off children.

In response to repeated issues being raised by drivers at monthly health and safety meetings, Tranzit staff are working with the police and the Wairarapa Road Safety Council to highlight the issue in the first week of the second school term.

On Tuesday a bus, with its hi-viz “School” sign displayed, was parked on Opaki Rd, with Tranzit staff waving signs to emphasise to drivers the need to slow down – the same exercise will take place at other locations around Masterton for the rest of the week.

Any bus showing its “School” sign is carrying children, and the rules around driving past them are clear.

While the speed limit when driving through a school zone is 40kmh, this drops to 20kmh when passing a stationary school bus, in either direction.

But that’s not the experience of those on the road.

Tranzit supervisor and driver trainer Vaea Peterson said the issue was raised regularly by drivers.

“It is something that is mentioned all the time at our monthly meetings – it comes up time and again. That’s why we’re here today,” he said.

“Some people do slow down, but others are flying by.

“I’ve been picking up children in a 90kmh area on SH2 and a truck has gone past – and it would have been doing that speed [90kmh].”

Police school community officer Senior Constable Julie Orr said drivers needed to be aware of the different kinds of buses on the road.

“There’s buses, buses, buses and then there are school buses – and they’re the ones you have to slow down for,” she said.

“People learn this when they’re getting their licences, but then it seems to be forgotten.

“And it is 20kmh on both sides of the road.”

Wairarapa road safety manager Bruce Pauling said the need to remind people about driving safety around school buses was “a sad indictment on the way we drive”.

“People may be tempted to blow it off as an arbitrary speed and drive a bit faster but anything above that can cause death [if people are hit],” he said.

“It’s good to see people slowing down when they see hi-viz vests and a police car but we want to make sure they do it every day.”

That view was echoed by Tranzit sales and marketing manager Helen Tickner.

“All the parents and people dropping children off at school will know the rule, but if you’re commuting and you’re not dropping kids off, they’re thinking the speed limit is 50kmh and not slowing down.

“This came from our drivers. They are seeing the speeds people are driving,” she said.

“It’s great to see people slowing down when they see the signs. It would be good to see what would happen tomorrow if we just parked the bus with the school signs open, and didn’t have people waving the signs.”

The driver education programme continued yesterday on High St, Masterton, near Hadlow School, will today be on Chapel St, near St Patrick’s School, and tomrrow on Ngaumutawa Rd, near Solway School.