[QLD] Operation 'Back to School

By: Chris Smith

Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence and Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson are appealing for motorists to pay particular attention around schools

Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence and Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson are appealing for motorists to pay particular attention around schools this week as children return from holidays.

Queensland Police will be out in force for the annual statewide ‘Back to School’ operation, targeting school zones with the aim of preventing serious injuries to children as a result of reckless driver behaviour.

Spence says: "With children returning to school after the Christmas holidays, and the next intake of PREP students commencing their schooling, it is extremely important for drivers to stay alert and obey road rules, especially in school zones".

"We are reminding drivers about the 40kmh ‘school zone’ speed limits, which haven’t been in force during the holidays.

"Children are vulnerable when it comes to road safety because they have difficulties accurately judging distance and speed. This was one reason why ‘school zone’ speed limits were introduced.

"A vehicle colliding with a pedestrian is likely to result in death or serious injury even at relatively low speeds.

"Reducing a vehicle’s speed when travelling through a school zone gives the driver more time to avoid a crash.

"If a vehicle hits a pedestrian at 60kmh the pedestrian has little chance of surviving.

"However, an impact speed of 40kmh or less provides the pedestrian with a more than 80 percent chance of survival.

"In addition to asking drivers to slow down, police want to remind drivers not to double park; not to pull into ‘no stopping’ zones; not to drop children off on pedestrian crossings; and not to use mobile phones when driving.

"Even the use of hands-free mobile facilities when driving in school zones should be avoided, as drivers really need to be 100 percent aware when in school zones.

"Drivers should maintain a safe distance between their car and the car in front, so as to allow enough time to react in the event of something unexpected happening.

This, along with following the directions of school crossing supervisors, and allowing a little extra time for your trip because of the increase in traffic around schools, will go a long way towards ensuring the safety of children on their return to school," Spence says.

Commissioner Bob Atkinson says parents also needed to take the time to educate their children in the basics of road safety, particularly children starting school for the first time.

"Children can behave unpredictably, hard to see when around vehicles, and will be excited to start school or to see their friends again. When combined, all of these factors make for a potentially fatal situation if drivers are not concentrating on their driving, and are not ready to react to any unexpected situation.

"Parents should ensure children wear an approved safety helmet when riding a bike, always using pedestrian crossings, and stop to look before crossing the road," Atkinson says.

In 2007, the annual Back to School operation resulted in 908 motorists being issued with infringement notices for speeding within school zones. A further 47 people were detected not wearing a seat belt, or for not having children properly restrained in vehicles.

"That is 955 potentially fatal situations that were detected by police in school zones during last year’s campaign alone," Atkinson says.

The dangerous practice of illegal parking within school zones also resulted in 148 drivers being issued with infringement notices.

"While the number of offences detected in school zones last year was still too high, it was a reduction from the previous year, which I believe was a result of the message getting through to drivers to take extra care and consideration around schools," he says.

The Commissioner says that ‘Save a Life a Week’ had the potential to reduce the unnecessary loss of lives on our roads, and Operation ‘Back to School’ would go a long way to ensuring the safety of children on their return to school.

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