A man who drove a logging truck into the back of a Bay of Plenty school bus, injuring 35 children, was an experienced truck driver, his uncle says.

The crash happened on a road in rural Ruatoki, south of Whakatane, on Monday as the bus was pulling over to drop pupils off.

An 8-year-old girl remains critically ill in Auckland's Starship Hospital while five other youngsters, aged between five and 16, are in a comfortable condition in hospitals in Tauranga and Whakatane.

The 41-year-old truck driver, a Ruatoki man, was discharged from hospital this afternoon and is recovering at home.


His uncle, Hemana Waaka, said he was an experienced truck driver,

Mr Waaka said his nephew was recuperating.

"He's still not well enough to talk to anybody.''

The crash has sparked calls for greater policing of logging trucks.

Taneatua School principal Rob Shaw said the number of logging trucks in the area had grown over the last three years and promises had been made to keep the speeds down.

Mr Shaw said up to eight or nine big trucks passed the school on State Highway 2 between 3pm and 3.15pm every day.

"They all know that school buses are on the road between 3 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon in our area, and I think they just have to be alert to that.''

Log Transport Safety Council chairman Warwick Wilshier said operators with trucks passing Taneatua School had again been reminded to observe the speed limit.


"To the best of my knowledge no concerns about vehicle speeds have been raised with local operators, but the Log Transport Safety Council would be more than happy to meet with Mr Shaw to discuss his concerns,'' he said.

Mr Wilshier said the number of trucks using the route had "dropped considerably'' as local logging was cut back recently.

Truckers were professionals who were expected to comply with road rules, he said.

"There's nothing to be gained by travelling fast in our industry. We have a day's work to get done and by speeding it's not going to make an extra load a day. So no, there's definitely not that pressure at all.''

The law requires vehicles passing stationary school buses to slow to 20km/h.

Stu McNabb, operations manager for Transbay Coaches, which operated the crashed bus, said too many people were speeding past school buses.

"I see people passing stationary buses at high speed, I grit my teeth very time because for sure something is going to happen,'' he told Radio New Zealand.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce yesterday said the accident was tragic, but would not commit to changes such as compulsory safety belts on school buses.

He said it was too early to comment on whether logging trucks should be banned from school bus routes between 3pm and 4pm on school days.

Police investigating the cause of the crash said it could take up to a month to determine what happened.