Federated Farmers transport and health & safety spokesperson Karen Williams is asking rural residents to sign a petition calling for a law change requiring seat belts in school buses.
Philippa (Pip) Cameron, who farms on Otematata Station in the Waitaki Valley, lodged the petition with Parliament on 6 April. The closing date for signatures is 30 April. As at 12 April, 3749 people had signed it on-line.
Currently whanau, parents, and caregivers are required to secure their children in a safety restraint when they are under a certain age when travelling in a vehicle, Pip said.
“However those of us, especially in rural areas, who drop our children to the bus stop, un-click our children from their restraint to climb onto a school bus with no requirements for seat belts at all. They travel up to 30km to school at speeds of 80km/hr.”
Karen also believes the current situation is unacceptable.
“When our children are babies we invest in baby capsules, then car seats with 5 point harnesses, both rear facing and then forward facing as the baby’s neck gets stronger, and then lastly booster seats until they are tall enough to safely fit in the seat belt.”
“But when they turn five and get on a school bus, suddenly having a restraint doesn’t matter?
“School bus routes can include narrow, windy gravel roads, often busy with heavy trucks. The bus driver will be secured in a seatbelt, but one row back there’s nothing to buckle in the child passenger,” Karen said.
Radio NZ reported that two children were seriously injured and six others suffered minor injuries after a school bus crashed near Murchison last month. A week earlier four school students were injured after two buses crashed in Christchurch. In 2018, St John urged the government to make wearing seatbelts compulsory on some bus services after two people died and many others were injured in a spate of accidents.
You can view Pip’s petition at https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/petitions