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ALEXIA.JOHNSTON

@alliedpress.co.nz

Motorists are frequently flaunting the rules at Alexandra’s Tarbert St pedestrian crossing, resulting in near misses on a regular basis.

The issue has been raised by St Gerard’s School staff in the hope people will take more care in the future and offer suggestions on how to make the area safer, particularly for children.

Brothers Ted and Arn Cuthbertson are among the children who use the pedestrian crossing to get to and from school and have described the experience as “scary” at times.

“Cars just keep going past,” Ted said, when explaining what it was like when waiting to cross.

“Yesterday morning [last Thursday] this one car was going really fast and then it just slammed on its brakes. It’s scary.”

Ted said the problem was mainly in the mornings but still occurred in the afternoons, and related to both cars and trucks.

“Cars just keep going past.” – Pupil Ted Cuthbertson

School principal Trina Eastwood said pupils were required to get help from the teacher on bus duty if they needed to cross the road in the afternoons.

In the mornings, parents were often on hand to help children cross.

“The problem I’ve got is, yes, we can have teachers out there. The teacher will walk out with them, but you can’t do that in the morning. The teachers have to be in their rooms at 8.30am, that’s the expectation,” Mrs Eastwood said.

Getting older children to help people cross was also not an option, she said.

“I’m not having the children standing out there – that’s not fair on the kids. That’s why we want the community to have a think about what [we] can do about this.”

One idea Mrs Eastwood has considered was flags to alert motorists to the pedestrian crossing.

Caution . . . Brothers Ted (9), left, and Arn Cuthbertson (8) say vehicles often fail to stop at the crossing outside their school. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

She was also keen to investigate the possibility of flashing lights to make the pedestrian crossing more obvious.

Children who have to cross the road have been given high vis vests to wear in the meantime.

“We’re just asking for families to come forward with information and ideas,” Mrs Eastwood said.

“It is something that needs to be community driven.

“It’s not [just ]about keeping our kids safe. It’s about keeping everyone on that crossing safe.”

She said growth in the town, including subdivision developments, was among the reasons the area had got “very, very busy” with traffic.

Some of that traffic “just [does not] slow down”, she said.

“Suddenly there’s a kid about to step on to the crossing and then they come screeching to a halt.”

Mrs Eastwood said she planned to do a survey to determine how many vehicles crossed the pedestrian crossing on a regular basis.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) states that, on average, 36 pedestrians are killed and 1000 pedestrians are injured on New Zealand roads every year.

Many of those deaths and injuries could be prevented if drivers took more care.

“It’s not [just ]about keeping our kids safe. It’s about keeping everyone on that crossing safe.” – Principal Trina Eastwood

Alexandra police school community officer Senior Constable Garry Milford said he was not aware of any issues related to the pedestrian crossing on Tarbert St.

He urged people to remember the rules – both motorists and pedestrians.

“We require people to stop and allow [pedestrians] to cross the road.”

A safety barrier in the middle of the Tarbert St crossing meant motorists were required to stop if someone was in the middle of the crossing, or if they were on the motorist’s side of the road.

However, the best option was to stop, no matter what.

“We prefer all vehicles to stop if people are trying to cross the road because it’s such a narrow road – it doesn’t take long to get across.”

Snr Const Milford said it was also important pedestrians did not step out until they were confident motorists were coming to a stop.