Parents fear for safety of children on danger road
PARENTS at Lochnell Primary School in Benderloch are calling for a ‘dangerous’ crossing across the busy A828 trunk road to be made safer, before a ‘terrible’ accident occurs.
One parent, D J Barr, spoke up at last Thursday’s local election hustings at the Victory Hall in Benderloch, asking candidates to support ‘an official crossing to ensure the safety of our children’, which drew applause from the audience.
‘We have a problem of children having to cross a main trunk road to get to their school,’ he said. ‘The school itself has 123 pupils – 54 of them are walkers, plus 26 children in the nursery, so that makes a possible 160 movements of children across a main trunk road every day, and we have not got anything there to ensure their safety.’
Previously, when the school was smaller, parents dropping off and collecting children by car could use the car park outside the school, but staff grew uneasy at the safety risks of vehicles driving in and reversing, and children arriving from all directions.
Now parents must use the car park on the opposite side of the A828 and escort their children along the pavement of the busy route between Oban and Fort William to a crossing point marked only by narrow railings.
Argyll and Bute Council explained: ‘Following discussions with the school’s parent council, it was agreed parents would escort their children across the road at the start of the day. Children are escorted from the school by staff at the end and taken across the road by their parents.’
One mum of two, Emma MacGregor, told of her ‘nightmares’ about the daily school run, saying: ‘I worry something will happen to my children when they cross the road, and I know I am not the only one. I have two young children – one in P1 and one in nursery – here for the next eight years.’
Her biggest worry was for her youngest, she said: ‘He does not know to stop, look and listen: he will just go onto the road. There is no barrier by the pavement. Cars do not follow the 30mph speed limit. There is not even a zebra crossing. You have young children waiting with you while there is a child on the other side of the road. We can be waiting for ages.
‘ When you see other schools, they have crossings and we ask, “Why don’t we?” It is going to take something terrible to happen for them to put something in place.’ Mr Barr’s wife, Kirsten, told
The Oban Times, as she dropped off two of their three children at Lochnell nursery: ‘I am petrified of crossing the road with my children. I do not think the car drivers are paying attention. Some are going more than 20mph or 30mph.’
A mum of two, who did not wish to be named, added: ‘I have seen a few near misses with very small children stepping into the road and parents having to pull them off. It’s horrendous. There is nowhere safe for children to cross. The roads are busier and the school is busier.’
Another mum of four said: ‘They come round the corner too fast, not realising it is a school. [ The children] could trip onto the road and that would be it.’
A third mum of three, who said ‘ massive HGVs are not sticking to the speed limit’, called for longer barriers.
A mother of four said a driver who stopped to let a child cross was then overtaken, adding: ‘They did not know there is a crossing,’ she said. ‘If there had been a kid there …’
A mum of two added: ‘ We are having to be really vigilant. Some of the nursery kids are very quick. I have seen a couple of near misses. One kid ran out from the tree and his mum did not have time to get to him, but another parent got to him. I think that was when people started talking.’
Argyll and Bute Council responded: ‘We have met BEAR Scotland, who manage and maintain the road, and the crossing arrangements in place are considered appropriate. The volume of traffic does not justify additional crossing measures.’
Transport Scotland pointed to its £60,000 upgrade of a zebra crossing in Benderloch to a new signalised puffin crossing.
A spokesman said: ‘Our accident statistics do not highlight a specific safety issue on the A828 at Lochnell Primary School and we are not aware of any recent requests for a pedestrian crossing at the school.’
He added that Transport Scotland would ‘continue to monitor the safety of the trunk road’.