12 March 2024

Police concerned about 'crazy driving behaviour' putting kids at risk in school zones

| Claire Fenwicke
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school zone

ACT school zones differ from NSW in that they are in force from 8 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday. Photo: TCCS.

The numbers have been described as “staggering”: more than 1000 motorists caught speeding and putting children at risk in Canberra’s school zones.

Both ACT Policing and Access Canberra monitor school zones across the Territory, with police receiving numerous complaints from the school community about drivers breaking the road rules.

“Some of the numbers we’re seeing are pretty staggering for this time of year. In the first five weeks of the school term, we’ve had over 50 motorists detected speeding [in school zones] by ACT Policing,” ACT Policing Officer in Charge of Road Policing, Acting Inspector Mark Richardson, said.

“We’re fast approaching the number of motorists booked for the entirety of 2023.”

Of the 107,000 motorists picked up by Access Canberra mobile speed vans in school zones, 961 have been caught going faster than they should.

That includes a top speed of 71 km/h in the Alfred Deakin High speed zone – more than 30 km/h over the posted limit.

ACT school zones differ from NSW as they are in force for the entirety of the school day, from 8 am to 4 pm.

Act Insp Richardson said there was no reason for such an uptick in offending in school zones.

“We can’t really put our finger on it. Maybe [motorists] are still thinking about the beach and what happened over the summer, but they don’t seem to be paying a great deal of attention behind the wheel,” he said.

“We’ve got really young kids who are really vulnerable because they don’t have that same attention to detail as other pedestrians. They’re quite unpredictable. They can run out from behind cars, and obviously, the faster you’re going, the harder it is for you to stop.”

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Speeding has been identified as one of the main factors behind serious and fatal car crashes.

A child was almost hit on a crossing just last week and speeding isn’t the only driver behaviour worrying police.

“Concerningly, we’ve had reports of cars not stopping at school crossings when there are school children attempting to cross … [that’s] really dangerous and really quite stupid,” Act Insp Richardson said.

“People are driving on the wrong side of the road to get around cars waiting to turn into school pick-up zones, and it’s just crazy driving behaviour.”

mobile speed van

Expect to see more mobile speed vans around school zones to combat a rise in speeding offences. Photo: Supplied

In response, both ACT Policing and Access Canberra will ramp up enforcement operations this week to remind motorists about their responsibilities in school zones.

Access Canberra Parking Operations and Traffic Camera Compliance director Christopher Seddon said educational opportunities would also be provided in areas where offending seemed particularly prevalent.

“There is one school that we have had a large number of speeding motorists [detected], so we’ll keep deploying to that area to keep educating motorists,” he said.

“[The speeds are] very surprising and disappointing.”

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Afternoon pick-up is a more concerning time for officers given the higher volume of cars present to pick up kids, students riding home on bikes, or walking to the bus.

Act Insp Richardson’s main message was that motorists should take their time in school zones no matter the time of day.

“At the end of the day, if you’re a couple of minutes later to your destination, it’s not the end of the world.

“But if you hit a kid at a school and injure a child or kill a child, you’ll feel like it’s probably the end of the world.”

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“Drivers are/should be focused on the road …”
They (perhaps I should say you), should be focused on everything around you when driving, including enforceable speed limit signs.

Perhaps you are the problem, not the absence of flashing warnings to remind you of your responsibilities as a driver.

“Drivers are/should be focused on the road …”
They (perhaps I should say you), should be focused on warnings to remind you of yourr responsibilities as a driver.everything around you when driving, including enforceable speed limit signs.

Perhaps you are the problem, not the absence of flashing

Throughout Australia and New Zealand – in even the smallest places – school zones are clearly identified by flashing solar lighting and signs. Only in the ACT are these static signs. Just another sign in the forest of signs along the road. Drivers are/should be focused on the road – not having to hunt for static school signs. That the ACT provide only these static signs appears to me to be more about revenue raising than children’s safety. Its appalling.

In all my years of driving, I don’t think I have ever had to hunt for a static sign in a school zone. They are clear and recognisable for all to see at every school in the ACT. If people don’t know a school zone in the ACT and the legal requirement for them to slow down to 40kph then they shouldn’t be driving.

We don’t need flashing lights for those who want to remain ignorant of the laws surrounding school zones in the ACT!

There’s no evidence that the ACT system is safer than the NSW system. I suspect its a much better revenue raising scam.

How is it a “revenue raising scam”? Do the appropriate speed limit and you don’t have to make a voluntary donation. It’s not rocket science.

Not everyone is familiar with the school holiday periods and dates. How about adopting the new south wales system with clear flashing lights when a school zone is active. And have the zone active in the morning and evening. Most of the time you don’t even realise you’re in a school zone due to hidden signs and no kids to see.

We should do away with the stupid “all day” speed limit zones outside schools & move to the NSW system.

Would that be “… stupid “all day” speed limit zones … ” because it inconveniences you to slow down to 40 kph when passing a school, where children may actually be present during the full restriction period?

Your reference to inconsistency between NSW and ACT, and in fact the variation between many jurisdictions, is valid. It’s reflective of the need for uniformity in many areas throughout the country.

ACT drivers are by and large pretty poor at basic road manners (indicating and keeping left). Add the arrogance of a few and you get what you see … idiots speeding.

Add to the mix a government unfit to govern and you get anything goes, if your caught the magistrates are there to help you sort out your unresolved childhood trauma.

No consequences. No care.

Schools are gated, gates are locked, no example of a school child being injured by a passing car in a gated school between 10am and 2pm… let’s drop the speed limit to 30kph around schools. Never know when a child will high jump the fences between 10am and 2pm

Capital Retro2:55 pm 12 Mar 24

The police do not have the resources to be concerned about anything.

Not only ‘crazy’ driving behaviour.
3 points
1. Decades ago the Authorities explained away the all day school zones compared with the NSW time targeted zones on the basis that ACT schools were unfenced and thus there was a risk of a child straying for whatever reason . This is largely no longer the case. Yet the ACT unique(?) all day zones remain.
2. NSW has perceived the very real benefit in making it clear when school zones are operative, by providing illuminated signage.
3. It has been reported that NSW registered cars are over represented in speeding offences. To be expected when confronted with inconsistent application of the ‘National’ road rules.

So, also ‘crazy’ regulatory behaviour by the ACT Authorities, in keeping different and arguably less effective arrangements in the tiny island within NSW of the ACT.

If better respect for road safety is wanted from drivers in the ACT, then also there should be greater respect for those drivers in the application of the rules, and the provision of relevant helpful and consistent compliance aids.

Its not just school zones. At the moment, there is clearly a perception of no risk of getting caught in Canberra. Try doing the signposted speed limit anywhere around Canberra and its frightening watching vehicles in the mirror descend on your back bumper like you’re standing still. Its unbelievable how few drivers comply with Canberra speed limits. The current roadwork limits southbound on the GDE are a frightening example. The budget would be fixed in one day with a camera van placed there.

If the government was serious about road safety it would up the fines and get more speed cameras and patrols, especially unmarked, out and about. At least the cost would be self-funding and help the health budget pay for crash trauma.

The AFP could be encouraged to get their members in mobile units to do their paperwork on laptops parked on the side of the road rather than being stuck in stations. Even members taking a kip on night shift parked in marked vehicles safely beside known road safety problem areas has been known to work in other jurisdictions.

Here here Davey. The drivers of those massive utes have lost any semblance of safe and considerate driving over the last few years.

They have zero concern of being charged with dangerous driving habits.

Well said.

Let’s get some more of those ‘revenue raising camera vans’ along the roadworks corridors, so the idiots out there can donate to the public purse and then come in here and complain.

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