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Good graders . . . SouthRoads Waitaki maintenance divisional manager Cameron Bullin hopes a name-the-grader competition will also help improve children's road safety around heavy vehicles. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

Primary school children are not just chasing good grades.

They are also chasing the chance to name a grader.

SouthRoads Ltd is holding a competition for Waitaki primary school pupils to name two of its graders, hoping to encourage safety around heavy vehicles.

The company’s Waitaki maintenance divisional manager Cameron Bullin said there had been good engagement from schools.

Graders are used for levelling gravel roads and eliminating potholes by shifting gravel from side to side. There were more than 1000km of gravel roads in Waitaki that connected communities, and SouthRoads had one grader serving the north and another the south.

There would be two winners of the name-the-grader competition – each grader being given a new name, which would be signwritten on them.

Every primary school in the Waitaki district had been invited to take part in the competition.

SouthRoads hoped it would reinforce the road safety message of “stay back, stay safe”.

“We want to get the message out from a young age and give them something to have pride in,” Mr Bullin said.

The graders would also tour Waitaki primary schools entered or interested, giving pupils the chance to go in the grader cabs and see the road from the driver’s perspective.

SouthRoads drivers had reported children biking too closely to heavy machinery, but this was often down to a lack of understanding.

“They’re big machines and they don’t stop very quickly,” he said.

“And they [children] probably don’t realise they can’t be seen. . . if you’re behind a grader, they have cameras [but] do not have a lot of visibility.”

The first entry arrived during the school holidays, suggesting the names “Gavin or Grady” – and Mr Bullin expected plenty more to come.

“There’ll be some really original ones.”

Individual winners would receive $250 to spend on personal learning resources, and their schools would receive $1000.

The competition would run until 5pm on May 28, and winners announced on June 1.