Improving the safety of children who use school buses
This paper summarises the results of two research projects on the safety of children that use school buses. The first project took a "Safe System" approach to determine what options are available to improve the safety of the 100,000 children who use school buses. This NZTA funded research included safety both on and around school buses. A number of interventions, and their effectiveness were identified. For example: improvements to bus stops, installing speed limit signs on buses that are activated when children may be crossing, increased enforcement, educational/information campaigns and bus design and management improvements. The research found that the most immediate and cost-effective solution is to slow the traffic around school buses that are dropping off or picking up children. The second project, funded by the Road Safety Trust, investigated various sign options and their effectiveness in slowing the traffic down. The current legal speed limit near school buses that have stopped to pick up or drop off children is 20 km/h. Currently almost no motorists comply with this speed limit and many appear to be unaware of it. The most effective sign was an active, LED-based, speed limit sign that included flashing beacons. Major reductions in average speeds were achieved, although there was an increase in speed variation. The results suggest that a combination of active bus signs, public awareness raising and enforcement may be required to achieve compliance with the 20 km/hr speed limit past a school bus.