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Libs revive flashing lights in school zones policy

By Charlotte Harper - 28 July 2016 4

Still from school zones on NSW Centre for Road Safety site.

The Canberra Liberals will spend $7.5 million to install flashing signs in ACT school zones if elected to government in October, reviving a policy they took to the last ACT election.

In 2012, Shadow Minister for Transport Alistair Coe told the ACT Legislative Assembly in August, 2012, that the Australian Road Research Board had found that flashing lights in school zones were effective in reducing vehicle speed outside schools during the operation of the 40 km/h school speed zone and that the NRMA had stated that a motorist’s awareness of school zones and ability to comply with the speed limit had been significantly improved where flashing lights have been installed.

He also quoted a US study that found:

“Following installation of the new signs [with flashing lights], average speeds were reduced by 9.3 percent. One year after installation the average speeds maintained a 7 percent reduction. Before the installation of the flashing beacons, the highest speeds were found in the afternoon studies. One year after installation, the afternoon speeds maintained an 8.8 percent reduction while the morning speeds maintained a 5.6 percent reduction.”

Mr Coe and Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Hanson said today that the signs would be similar to those installed around NSW schools, and that they plan to operate them them in all ACT schools to remind drivers to slow down.

There is at least one set of flashing lights at every NSW school, though these are only in operation during school drop-off and pick-up peak periods.

Mr Coe said today that the signs had been demonstrated to be effective in reminding drivers and enhancing safety for children.

“Whilst some motorists consciously speed, many only do so because of a momentary lack of concentration and these signs will prompt motorists to slow down on the most critical stretches of our roads,” he said.

The ACT Government is in the process of rolling out mobile speed van sites in all Canberra schools, with more than 40 schools already up and running and another 50 at the testing stage.

We contacted the ACT Minister for Road Safety, Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury for comment on this matter, and his office handed our questions on to the ACT Minister for Transport and City Services, Labor’s Meegan Fitzharris.

The Minister said the Government would not be implementing flashing lights at this time.

They had recently made a number of changes to improve safety around schools, including the establishment of a dedicated Schools Transport Coordinator responsible for liaising with schools on transport issues, dragon’s teeth road markings to increase driver awareness, a trial of 30km/h zones around schools, allowing mobile speed cameras into more school zones, conducting road safety blitzes on speeding around schools, and investing $2 million in the Active Streets for Schools program to make it easier and safer for kids to ride or walk to school, helping to ease congestion at pick up and drop off times.

“While a recent review of school zone signage practises in the ACT and around Australia found a territory-wide application of this type of flashing light signage was found not to be justified – largely because road conditions are very different in the ACT than in other jurisdictions – we will of course continue to work with schools and P & Cs to find the best ways to improve road safety,” Ms Fitzharris said.

A 13-year-old boy was rushed to hospital after being hit by a truck outside Kingsford Smith School in Holt earlier this week.

Pictured is a still from a video on the NSW Centre for Road Safety website.

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