Posted by: rivettingkatetaylor | July 21, 2009


If you don’t slow down when passing a school bus, you’re a bloody idiot.

The legal speed limit when passing a stationary school bus is 20km an hour …. whether or not it has stopped on your side of the road.

The author of a book I read as a teenager described the sound made by turkeys (or kangaroos or wallabies or some form of wildlife) hitting the bullbars on the front of his ute. I thought of this quote yesterday when putting my children on the school bus at the front gate.

Why? Because people are speeding past our school bus when my children are getting on and off. And the thought of them getting walloped by a vehicle is scary as hell.

They have been taught all the right things about looking both ways, walking straight across the road with no dawdling, standing up straight looking at a vehicle when it passes so the driver knows you have seen them… even as far as knowing they have to let the cat get run over if it is stupid enough to follow us across the road when there’s a car coming.

We’re not on a state highway but we are on a busy rural road. And traffic goes all of the 100kmh limit (plus some).

My kids have seen enough squashed possums on the road (not to mention have buried two kittens, which they didn’t see) to know what would happen to their own bodies if they were hit by a car.

But they are children. Children can’t judge speed. They may not see another vehicle following the first one. And we all know they are easily distracted. “Look mummy, a rainbow..” (Kitten, fluffy cloud, hawk, lamb, dandelion… insert appropriate word!)

Do you really want the death or maiming of a child on your conscience?

And yet still, people insist on not slowing down for school buses. Some dork even passed me (while still going about 100km) on SH2 the other afternoon while I was slowing down for a school bus stopped on the other side of the road. Now it was obvious to me from local knowledge that the children getting off the bus were going to walk straight down their driveway after they got off the bus. But you never know do you? Gust of wind blows a letter or certificate out of their hand and they follow it?

Some people might just be rude all the time. The driver of one of the vehicles that doesn’t slow down when my kids are getting on the bus (and she has small children in her car) made no effort to slow down when passing me jogging on the side of the road this morning either (and I got a stone flicked on my leg). Cow.

Anyway – the message.

Since 1987, 23 children have been killed, 47 seriously injured and 92 received minor injuries when crossing a road to or from a school bus.

Apparently a check done in Matamata showed the average speed of motorists when passing a stopped school bus was 85kmh on the side of the bus and 93kmh on the opposite side of the road. I reiterate – the speed limit is 20kmh. 

Thank you to a recent email from Rural Women NZ  for those stats. It has launched a campaign to help solve this issue – its recommendations include re-arranging school bus runs,  improving bus stopping places, changing the rules to enable effective enforcement of the Road Code, installation of flashing lights and signs on buses, and a driver awareness campaign.

For now though, as I said at the start:  if you don’t slow down when passing a school bus, you’re a bloody idiot.



  1. Okay. Confession time. I almost got hit by a vehicle crossing the road after putting the kids on the bus. I walked behind the bus before it pulled away and was full of dreamy anticipation of the hot coffee and five-minute Facebook fix that was awaiting me inside. So please don’t speed past stationary school buses – for the kids sake and for mine!

  2. From Penny in Roxburgh…

    hi Kate I too enjoyed listening to you on the farming show as I was driving back from town. It made me think too about the bus safety although I have to drive my kids to the bus stop so they are not crossing roads. However our school have recently got flouro vests for all the kids whether they walk or take the bus which are brilliant. Even the bus driver has one as he often gets out and walks the kids across the road. Will look forward to your next spot on the farming show. cheers penny, Roxburgh, Central Otago

    Penny – July 22, 2009 at 9:50 pm e

  3. From Kate in Clinton:

    Hi Kate
    Just heard you on the Farming Show, as Jamie said it’s great to have a gender balance on the show. After entertaining two preschoolers, baking, getting lunch ready and trying to get washing dry, it was a welcome relief to listen to your piece on bus safety today. It’s thought provoking now that school’s are back for Term 3. I look forward to many more lunchtime listening over the airwaves.
    Kate Anderson
    Clinton, South Otago

  4. […] in 2009, I had this to say […]

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