Thursday, 14 July 2011

Moorside School pupils help in police road safety crackdown

moorside_primary_school.jpgMoorside Primary School pupils helped officers deal with 28 motorists who were stopped for driving irresponsibly near their school during a road safety crackdown.

Four youngsters from the Lancaster school took part in a roadside restorative justice project as part of Operation Pathway, a Lancashire-wide initiative aimed at reducing the number of people who are killed or seriously injured on Lancashire’s roads.

Each month has a different theme – with July concentrating on lowering the number of child casualties in the county.

During an hour and half, members of Lancaster’s neighbourhood police teams stopped 28 vehicles that were being driven irresponsibly along Barton Road. The motorists were then asked to speak with the pupils, who explained how the motorists’ driving could put young lives at risk.

“It goes without saying that motorists should be paying particular care to their driving when they are on roads where there are likely to be children nearby," notes Sergeant Guy Hamlett of neighbourhood policing, "especially in residential areas and close to schools.

“As we are looking at reducing child casualties this month it seemed fitting that the pupils should be the ones to point out to the motorists that their driving could be endangering young lives.”

He added: “Over the past five years the number of people killed or seriously injured in collisions on roads in the north of the county has fallen by 20 per cent. We are always looking for new ways to reduce this figure even further and this always proves to be an effective way of making drivers think twice about their behaviour behind the wheel.”

Although welcoming the scheme, former City Councillor and transport expert Professor John Whitelegg feels more could be done to improve road safety as a whole - and not just around schools.

"It's a good idea to involve children but the problem is much bigger than death and injury near a school," he told virtual-lancaster. "Only a small minority of child road casualties - just 20 per cent - occur on the way to or from school, and very few casualties occur outside the school itself.

"The mean radius of school safety zones is just 300 metres, yet the mean distance travelled to school is 1.8km - so school safety zones apply to only 17 per cent of the journey. At exit gateways to school safety zones drivers are reminded of an increase in speed limit to 30mph.

"Schools operate around 240 days a year so things we do near schools should be matched by things we do for the other 125 days," he argues. "The answer is the Swedish 'Vision Zero' road safety policy that says 'there will be zero deaths and zero  serious injuries in the road environment'. 

"This means a general 20 mph speed limit that is rigorously enforced by the police and a general culture of zero tolerance for drivers that break the limit."

Lancashire County Council announced the introduction of a 20 mph speed limit for residential roads across the county back in January, after years of campaigning for lower speed limits by the Green Party and health professionals, and, more recently, by a local 20s Plenty group.

Neighbourhood police teams have also been carrying out child road safety lessons and driver awareness sessions at schools across the north of the county as part of this month’s activities.

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