SCHOOL DANGER ZONES
What will it take to ensure our children are safe on the way to school? That's the vexed question facing a myriad of parents and road safety experts on the North Shore.
Every day, motorists are putting children's lives in danger due to a combination of many factors, including reckless driving, inadequate safety precautions and minimal penalties being issued for speeding in local school zones.
For Beauty Point Public School parent Bernadette Facer, the daily walk to the school along Medusa Street with her two children brings the same anxiety each morning.
"We see drivers speeding through the school crossing and we can go a month or more without seeing any rangers patrolling the area," she tells North Shore Living.
"Unfortunately, it also tends to be many local residents that are speeding. They are not concentrating on the crossing and each day it's very stressful watching the children walk across it."
Ms Facer describes the Beauty Point Public School crossing as "dangerous" and says the school administration has done everything possible to try and educate parents and children about getting safely across the road. This includes repeated safety discussions with children and notes for parents in the school magazine. "The kids have had it drummed into them to come across the road in pairs and hold hands," she says.
Beauty Point Public School is one of many North Shore schools that does not have a 'lollipop person' to direct traffic in the morning and evening.
The school also doesn' have a dedicated, safe drop-off or pick-up zone for parents. On the morning that North Shore Living visited the school site, many parents were dropping off their children either in no parking areas or stopping just before the crossing, creating a dangerous scenario.
"You just don't know what motorists are going to do," Ms Facer claims. There are workmen belting along Medusa Street and buses and this behavior needs to stop."
Another resident, Ingrid Nott, who lives directly opposite the school crossing, says parents pull up in a no standing zone right next to the crossing outside her house. "Motorists go fast past the school - I see it happening every day - no-one watches the crossing or the children. It's outrageous."
The Pedestrian Council of Australia CEO, Harold Scruby, says he has been lobbying for a dedicated pick-up and drop-off area along Purcell Street, which runs at one side of the North Shore school.
"The solution is very simple," he says. "You narrow the footpath and create a drop-off zone and the children go straight through a gate into the school yard.
"The current situation is creating pandemonium - it's extremely dangerous."Mr Scruby adds that not nearly enough is being done to protect children entering school grounds. "The best solutions in road safety around schools are engineered - not solutions relying entirely on enforcement," he states.
"There are over 4000 schools in NSW and it's happening everyday with children being let out of cars in dangerous situations."
Mosman Council's Environment and Planning director, Craig Covich, says the council is "working proactively with schools throughout the area to improve safety".
"Rangers help ensure student safety by enforcing illegal and poor driver behavior and encouraging parents and drivers to obey the road rules," he explains.
He says council rangers are in school areas each morning and afternoon monitoring traffic and enforcing safety.
But Beauty Point parents tell North Shore Living they very rarely see rangers near the school, and much more needs to be done to improve safety.
In addition, the Office of State Revenue statistics show that in the past year, more than 80,000 drivers were caught speeding through school zones in NSW.
"This is just not acceptable," says Ms Facer.
"We can go a month or more without seeing any rangers and when they are here, the behaviour is modified for the morning and then goes back to being dangerous and unpredictable. We are so scared someone is going to be injured or killed."