An Oamaru police officer who has campaigned for several years to have speed-limit signs placed on school buses as a warning to motorists has no plans to give up any time soon.
Senior Constable Bruce Dow is determined to have the yellow signs with flashing lights that state the speed limit, in both 50kmh and 100kmh zones, for passing a bus (20kmh) reinstated.
The signs were removed from school buses in 2007 at the direction of the Ministry of Transport because they were not approved by the NZ Transport Agency.
The signs, bought in 2005 by a local road safety group, are now gathering dust at the Ritchies Transport depot in Oamaru.
Lights on the signs flash when the bus’ doors open, or when its hazard lights are operating.
Snr Const Dow said the signs should be reinstated.
“I was delighted to see them purchased [in 2005] and erected in place on the buses, and I was disappointed to see they were removed. I’m still disappointed they are not on buses, after raising the issue of them being missing since 2013.”
Waitaki District Council road safety co-ordinator Elton Crane also liked the idea of the signage.
“I support the installation of 20kmh flashing signs on school buses once the NZTA are satisfied with a specific design,” Mr Crane said.
“I am unsure why the review is taking so long, since this has been in the spotlight for a number of years now.”
From May 2013 to April 2014, the signs were trialled in Ashburton as part of an NZTA initiative.
A second, year-long trial, designed to establish the size of sign that would fit and was effective on smaller school buses, was approved by the agency in 2016 and completed in February.
Last month, new signs were installed on school buses – four in Wanaka and 12 in Queenstown – which, when folded down, carry the traditional “School” text along with a “20km when stopped” message.
The initiative was a collaborative effort between the Queenstown Lakes District Council, Go Bus, NZ Police and Rotary Queenstown.
An NZTA spokesman said there were no plans to extend the school bus signs trial to other areas at this stage.
However, Snr Const Dow said if trials were being held in other centres, Oamaru should also be considered.
“That’s what’s probably a bit disturbing, that Waitaki’s missing these signs,” he said.
“They are the gold standard of signs. If people don’t see that and don’t slow down, there’s no excuse. I’m just sad these things are not on there.
“I want these signs up and I think four years is a good amount of time to make a decision on that.”
He believed the lack of signage could put lives at risk.
“The bottom line is we are actually trying to protect our children here. We know there hasn’t been any child deaths since 2010, but we don’t want one in 2017.
“There’s no way you can stop for a kid if you’re going 100kmh.
“The aim of the game is to stop any deaths in Waitaki, and I think this would be a positive step to highlight the speed limit and prevent any deaths.”