WACSSO affiliates continually report road safety concerns. Constant issues arise over a lack of safety surrounding student pick-up and drop-off periods. To ensure road safety in school zones the State Government needs to provide school crossing guards and ‘walk lights’ where needed and to develop adequate pick-up/drop-off zones for all schools.
There are more than 1050 schools in WA, yet only approximately 600 government funded school crossing guards. There are two types of school crossings in WA, Type A and Type B, which are approved and overseen by the Children’s Crossing and Road Safety Committee (CCRSC), of which WACSSO is a member. Type A Crossings are staffed by government funded crossing guards, while Type B crossing guards are left to the school community to fund. It is beyond the capacity of most government schools to fund this type of service. Therefore, while a school may be approved of a Type B crossing, in which only the infrastructure is funded by the State Government, the risks remain as they are unable to employ a guard. The end result is a situation where students are crossing potentially dangerous roads without a trained guard onsite.
Despite the significant safety improvement made by the implementation of electronic, flashing 40-kilometre-an-hour signage in school zones, there are some motorists who continue to drive dangerously through these zones. A particularly dangerous situation arises where there is a very busy road near a school (more than 1000 vehicles passing by in an hour). For safety reasons the number of students crossing the road in such cases is minimal – it is simply too dangerous to cross, hence the school cannot meet the quota to qualify for a guard. If a crossing was approved in such cases, students would be safer and more likely to use the crossing, so the school would then qualify.
Furthermore, where students are being dropped off to school by car there needs to be a coordinated effort between local government and the Department of Education to demarcate and enforce school “kiss and drop” zones. The combined levels of government need to develop a coordinated pick-up and drop-off scheme using existing ‘No Parking’ areas at schools. The areas should always be on the school side of the road to provide convenience for drivers and enhance children’s safety. By assisting parents and carers to easily, and legally, pick-up or drop-off their children we are ensuring a safe environment and minimising the associated risks.
The safety of Western Australian school students is paramount.
WACSSO calls for:
- any school requesting a crossing guard to be provided with one immediately for an initial 6 month period while further assessments are carried out;
- a more accurate determination of risk via amendments to the current formula to determine the need for a Type A crossing, to also take into account other risk factors i.e. road conditions, speed limits, types of vehicles using the road, pedestrian age and number of unsupervised crossings;
- the State Government to investigate the provision of ‘walk lights’ at all schools without school crossing guards; and
- the development of a coordinated pick-up and drop-off scheme between Local Government and the Department of Education to ensure all schools have a safe environment for the pick-up and drop-off of students.
For referencing and the full report, click here.