Community cries out for crossings after schoolboy hit by car
CALLS for more pedestrian crossings around Clarence Valley schools have been renewed after a South Grafton Public School student was struck by a ute in Vere St Thursday morning.
The 11-year-old was airlifted to Coffs Harbour Hospital, where he is being treated for serious, but not life-threatening head injuries.
At least two applications for pedestrian crossings near local schools have been rejected by Roads and Maritime Services in recent years, because the locations did not meet a certain set of criteria.
Pedestrian Council of Australia CEO Harold Scruby said an attitude that "cars going faster" was more important than the safety of pedestrians had to change if authorities wanted to stop accidents happening.
Mistimed move ends in injury
AN 11-year-old South Grafton boy has suffered serious facial injuries after being hit by colliding with a vehicle in South Grafton.
The South Grafton Primary School student attempted to cross the road at Vere St about 8.30am yesterday morning when he was struck by collided with the tray of a white utility.
The child suffered multiple head injuries, including a gash on his face and neck and broken teeth, but police said his injuries were not life-threatening.
He was stabilised by paramedics, who then met the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter at the South Grafton airfield to transport him to Coffs Harbour Hospital.
The driver of the vehicle was released pending further investigation.
Police said early indications suggested the accident was the fault of the pedestrian, and had ruled out speed out as a factor.
CALL FOR CROSSING AUDIT - Editorial, David Moase
Putting people before cars
PUT pedestrians first, not motor vehicles.
That's the call from Pedestrian Council of Australia CEO Harold Scruby, who says an attitude that cars are more important than pedestrians has to change if authorities want to stop accidents happening.
Mr Scruby said he thought Roads and Maritime Services made it too difficult for pedestrian crossings to be installed, right around the state.
"To get them to put in a pedestrian crossing is about as hard as it was to find Bin Laden," he said.
"When someone asks for a pedestrian crossing the response is that they haven't met the warrants."
Mr Scruby said the government department needed to look more closely at risk assessment as opposed to death and injuries, saying the current criteria outlined by RMS was a death waiting to happen.
To get them to put in a pedestrian crossing is about as hard as it was to find Bin Laden.
"Until you kill someone, you can't put in a pedestrian crossing," he said.
"But where do we cross the road if we can't have crossings?"
If a road is deemed unsafe to cross, another option for RMS is to install a refuge, usually on busy or wide roads to help pedestrians cross in two stages.
Mr Scruby said he thought they were more dangerous than pedestrians' crossings as they gave people no right of way.
"They confuse cars and they confuse people," he said.
"Crossings are a standard piece of infrastructure which allows pedestrians to cross the road with right of way.
"Refuges are not safe."
He added that yesterday's incident was a reminder to all of the dangers of simply crossing the road.
"These things will happen, and they are an example of why parents and carers and teacher have all got to be more concerned," he said.
"It's a good lesson for all of us.
"Let's try to wipe the idea that cars going faster are more important than the lives and limbs of people, especially children."
Does the Clarence Valley need more pedestrian crossings around schools?
This poll ended on 10 February 2015.
Yes - child safety should be top priority
No - there are enough already
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Official view - Roads Department has final say
AT LEAST two applications for pedestrian crossings near Clarence Valley schools have been rejected in recent years.
Clarence Valley Council works and civil director Troy Anderson said any requests for pedestrian crossings had to meet guidelines set down by Roads and Maritime Services.
He said applications had been made in the past for a crossing near the intersection of Vere and Kelly Sts in South Grafton, but they did not meet the guidelines.
"RMS has since eased those guidelines," he said.
"Through the traffic advisory committee, we would consider any application for a crossing in Vere St, between Bent and Blight streets."
Mr Anderson said that for RMS to approve the installation of a crossing, conditions such as the number of pedestrians and the number of vehicles going past a given point in a given period of time needed to be met.
"If the conditions aren't met, we try to work with the schools involved on other methods to improve safety," he said.
Mr Anderson said a potential crossing for around the Clarence Valley Anglican School, which also did not meet previous criteria, could be reconsidered.
School safety - Pet goes in to bat for more school crossings
PAT McDonald has made it her personal mission to have more pedestrian crossings installed around local schools.
The South Grafton resident was driving her grandson to school yesterday morning when she saw the flashing lights of emergency services vehicles on Vere St.
When she was told a vehicle had hit a child outside the primary school, she decided something had to be done and rang the Clarence Valley Council to make a report.
South Grafton schools are not properly equipped with pedestrian crossings.
It is not the first time Mrs McDonald has been involved in campaigning for a school crossing in the area.
Last year she rang the council with a request to have a crossing installed at Kelly St, South Grafton, after witnessing a child being knocked down on the road, but was apparently told the nearby South Grafton Primary School had to make the request.
A local petition that followed was unsuccessful.
"South Grafton schools are not properly equipped with pedestrian crossings," said the determined campaigner.
"These schools have several access points, but every school this side of town has only one pedestrian crossing, Mrs McDonald said.
"Not every kid that leaves the (South Grafton Primary School) has to go across Bent St.
"There's a line of thinking that they're more dangerous, but they certainly have a place."
Mrs McDonald said she would continue to fight for more safe places for children to cross the road during school hours.
"Even if I have to call A Current Affair, there is going to be a crossing in these schools," she said.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Tell us in the comments below where you think needs a pedestrian crossing, and we will compile a list to submit to the Clarence Valley Council.