New school zone established
Karratha authorities are urging residents to slow down for the new 40km/h school zone on the intersection of Dampier Highway and Broadhurst Road or face steep penalties.
The new before and after-school speed limit was established at the beginning of this school term by the City of Karratha in consultation with Main Roads WA and the Department of Education.
It comes as the culmination of years of community concern over the safety of students crossing the high-speed main road since the school moved there in 2013.
Karratha Senior High School principal Jennifer McMahon said crossing the highway had long been risky for students.
“(In the past) it has been really dangerous for students due to the speed limit and also the confusion with some cars stopping and some not,” she said.
“The school zone will make a big difference. We are constantly working with students on road safety, as parents are, and we monitor the crossing. Having the reduced speed will assist the safety of all road users and pedestrians.”
Pilbara Traffic Police Acting Sergeant Ian Cliffe said police were monitoring speeding in the area and from their observations in the first days of the school zone, most drivers had not noticed the change.
“Many vehicles had such an excessive speed that they have been near to getting their vehicles impounded for 28 days and a loss of licence for reckless driving,” he said.
“Despite it being well-signposted, many drivers stopped said they were unaware of the school zone and were used to flashing lights, so did not think about them any further.
“If this continues, we can expect numerous loss of licences from people who have never had so much as a traffic infringement previously.”
Driving the usual highway speed of 70km/h during school zone times counts as driving 30kmh over the speed limit, which carries a penalty of a more than $800 fine and six demerit points.
City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said the school zone was a positive step, and though pedestrian safety measures could be more extensive, other options such as an overpass or underpass had been turned down by Main Roads and the Education Department.
The City has applied for funding under the Federal and State Government Black Spot program for more improvements to the intersection.
Pilbara Traffic Police Acting Sergeant Ian Cliffe monitors driver speeds in the new school zone on Dampier Highway.