MIDCOAST Council is working with school communities in the region to improve safety for students when arriving and departing from school.
The campaign, directed by Council’s Road Safety Officer Chris Dimarco with support from school staff, aims to ensure that all drivers understand and obey school zone traffic rules for the safety of students.
Mr Dimarco said signs explaining rules are displayed at schools, and Council rangers will be on hand during the year to help drivers understand the laws.
“It’s really surprising how many people don’t know the parking rules, whilst other drivers openly choose to park illegally putting other road users at risk,” he said.
“It’s not about revenue raising, it’s about the education side of it first, and enforcing the road rules to keep everyone safe.”
Mr Dimarco said the ‘kiss and drop’ zones at local schools are particularly chaotic for around 20 minutes each morning and afternoon, where the slightest distraction can have serious consequences.
“We’ve noticed parents on their mobiles organising after school activities, it’s a very hectic time, so that’s where we’re targeting,” he said.
With a few instances where students have narrowly missed being hit by vehicles, Bulahdelah Central School Deputy Principal Mrs Deb Gilbert said ensuring the safety of every student was a priority.
“Regardless of whether it is at the back of the school or the front, safety is a huge concern for us,” she said.
“Accidents have happened at other schools and we don’t want this happening here, so it’s about providing a safe environment and safer options for students.”
Like other traffic offences, disobeying the laws in school zones attract both fines and demerit points.
Pulling up in a bus zone, disobeying a no stopping sign and double parking in a school zone each attract a fine of $325 plus two demerit points.
Exceeding the school zone speed limit by just a few kms/h will result in a $189 fine, and if you travel more than 20kms/h above the school speed limit, expect to cop a hefty $568 fine and the loss of five demerit points.
Mrs Gilbert said the school regularly liaises with Council, Busways and other authorities to continually improve school zone safety.
By Daniel SAHYOUN