School putting brakes on rule-breakers

MICHELE ONG
Last updated 05:00 29/03/2014
Waitara Central School
DOMINIKA ZIELINSKA/ Fairfaax NZ

STOP IT: Waitara Central School pupils Aidan Martin, 10, front, with schoolmates Joshua Frost, 10, Astan Green and Ainsley Hanan, both 9, are tired of motorists breaking the road code.

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Blatant disregard for road rules is driving a Waitara school up the wall.

Jaywalkers, drivers parking on grass verges and footpaths, along with motorists doing U-turns without checking their mirrors, are among the offences Waitara Central School students put up with.

Principal Sharren Read said it was a two-fold problem.

"It's the pedestrians and also the drivers," she said. "It's all happening in the one area, so it's compounded."

Health and safety board of trustee member Val Huffam said parents would pull into the bus area to pick their children up and "do a U-turn without checking.

"The crossing issue does my head in."

Parents parking across the road and calling out to their child also posed a serious safety problem.

"The other day, one boy's mum was sitting on the car across the road, and she called out to him and he just ran across without looking," Mrs Huffam said.

The school keeps a notebook to record various infringements but the ongoing rule breaking was just "really frustrating", Mrs Read said.

"We do spend a lot of time in teaching our kids how to cross the road safely but we don't get a follow-up."

It was only a small number of parents who were breaking the rules but they were "very visible," she said.

Mrs Huffam said the issue lay with some of its parents. "We tell our kids, who tell their parents, that if they're crossing the road, they've got to take the crossing, but their parents say ‘no we're not'."

Mrs Read once stopped a parent who was considering jaywalking. "I said ‘would you mind using the pedestrian crossing?', and the parent said ‘Oh, I'm not going to do that'."

The NZ Transport Agency has released a guide, Safer Journeys For Rural Schools, providing technical guidance for road controlling authorities and engineers to help them assess risk and "identify the most effective" solutions to improve safety around schools.

A guideline was also printed for schools, boards of trustees and parents. Common road safety issues for schools are listed and a short guide to help communities identify the risks and a range of solutions.

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