MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (4.29pm): I move:
That this Assembly:
(a) the location of Trinity Christian School on a bend on McBryde Crescent in Wanniassa;
(b) that there is no pedestrian crossing at the Trinity Christian School;
(c) the concerns held by the principal, parents and the wider community for the safety of the children who attend Trinity Christian School; (d) the high traffic flow in this area during peak school pick up and drop off times; and
(e) the need for better traffic management in this area to ensure the safety of the children at Trinity Christian School; and
(2) calls on the government to:
(a) install a pedestrian crossing and other appropriate traffic management measures to improve child safety; and
(b) report back to the Assembly by the last sitting day of 2013.
The safety of children is important to all of us. In any situation which impacts children we would always be aiming for an outcome that, first and foremost, ensures their safety. An example of this is the introduction of working with children or vulnerable people checks.
An area where safety should be very visible is when our children are travelling to and from school. Whether they are being dropped off by their parents, walking or catching buses, we want to be assured of their safety from the moment they leave the house in the morning to the moment they get home in the evening. Just as schools must be safe places for students, the roads which surround our schools need to be safe as well. And that is why I bring this motion to the Assembly today.
It is an issue that has been brought to my attention, not just in recent weeks but before my election to this place. It has been an ongoing concern at Trinity Christian School for quite some time. I know this because I live nearby, close to Erindale shopping centre, and drive past the school frequently. I also know quite a number of parents with children at the school and teachers at the school.
McBryde Crescent in Wanniassa is one of the main roads that run through Wanniassa to two other schools and the main shopping area, Erindale. Situated along this road, on a bend, is Trinity Christian School. It is a school with students from kindergarten to grade 12. It is a very busy area during peak school times. There is heavy traffic at school pick-up and drop-off times, a shortage of car parking and, what I believe is most critical, the absence of a pedestrian crossing near the school and appropriate signage to accompany a pedestrian crossing.
I, along with other members of the Canberra Liberals, believe that the lack of traffic and pedestrian management out the front of Trinity Christian School is putting our children at risk. At the moment there is the one standard school zone sign as you approach the school from each direction. However, there is no pedestrian crossing, no school crossing, no safe place for the children to cross the road to get to and from their school.
This does not mean children do not cross here. They need to cross the road to get to and from school. It simply means there is no warning for the motorists that use this road that there are many children crossing in this area. There is no certainty of where the children will cross and there is no means by which children can cross the road in a safe and protected manner.
People speed. I am not condoning this in any way, simply making an observation. And people do speed through Wanniassa. They can treat roads such as Sternberg and McBryde crescents as main roads and drive faster than they should. The ACT Policing crime statistics show that in the three months ending September this year, 72 traffic infringements were issued in Wanniassa. And there were three road collisions causing injury. I do not have a breakdown of where these incidents occurred or where the infringements were issued, but ultimately we need to be aware that it happens anywhere. And it can happen anywhere. We cannot wait for a child to be hit out the front of this school, for a tragedy to take place, before we decide it is a good idea to rectify the issue.
So today we are calling on the government to fix this, to decrease the risks for pedestrians at Trinity Christian School. We are calling on the government to install a pedestrian crossing at this school and consider what other traffic management options might be available. One such option to accompany a pedestrian crossing would be the use of flashing lights in this school zone. It is vital that we provide a safe crossing option for these children, as well as parents and staff members. By installing a pedestrian crossing and associated signage or traffic management measures at Trinity Christian School, the risk to these students would be significantly reduced.
Research points to this being one of the most essential parts of a school zone if we want to increase safety for children. The audit into improving road safety in school zones, completed in February 2010 by the New South Wales Auditor-General, recommended "improve the visibility of school zones by increasing use of flashing lights". We need to get a crossing at this school first and then we need to act on the best methods of improving visibility in this area. Countless groups and community organisations point to this as a necessity.
The Australian Road Research Board found that flashing lights in school zones were effective in reducing vehicle speed outside schools during the operation of the 40 kilometres per hour school speed zone, because they drew the motorists' attention to the school and the signs more successfully. The NRMA has stated for many years that a motorist's awareness of school zones and the ability to comply with the speed limit had been significantly improved where flashing lights and appropriate signage had been installed. The New South Wales Commissioner for Children and Young People believes that every school in New South Wales should have a flashing light warning system in place so that all children enjoy the same level of protection.
I call on the government today to install a pedestrian crossing with appropriate signage in this area and other appropriate traffic management measures. The Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations in New South Wales said that flashing lights remind drivers of the presence of a school in the area and therefore the presence of students as pedestrians. And only last month the Queensland government announced that every school in Queensland will have flashing lights to slow down motorists. They also announced that penalties will be increased for motorists speeding within these school zones.
In June of this year, the New South Wales government announced that by the end of 2015 every school in New South Wales would have flashing school zone signs. Other states are taking up these policies because the research shows it is the best solution, it draws the motorists' attention to the school zone and, most importantly, the pedestrians in this area.
Trinity Christian School, first and foremost, are seeking a pedestrian crossing, with appropriate signage to draw the motorists' attention to children crossing and the school zone in general. Flashing lights have also been shown to be an appropriate form of signage for this purpose. Roads ACT have confirmed that of the 63 reported crashes involving pedestrians on ACT roads last year, five occurred within school zones. I do not believe the fact that only five pedestrians were hurt in school zones makes this issue any less important. We do not want to sit and wait for another child to be hit before we act. We need to be proactive, not reactive. Nothing is more important than the safety of our children.
I urge the government to support this motion today and act now, not wait for an accident to occur.