Council's commitment to road safety continues
The problem of traffic near schools is challenging and can be frustrating for both residents and parents. The same approach does not necessarily work at every school, which is why the council is continuing to use a wide range of measures to tackle the problem.
Initiatives, which will continue next year, include the extension of 20mph zones around schools during busy times to include another eight schools. Traffic calming measures have also been introduced where appropriate.
The council has also been working with schools to encourage children to walk and cycle and asking parents to park away from the school gate to reduce congestion.
Road safety lessons are also delivered across the borough and some schools, like Rydal Academy, have appointed junior road safety officers to help spread the word amongst their peers and highlight particular issues in their local area.
The council’s enforcement officers work with the police to carry out spot checks at schools where there are particular issues and issue fines to anyone breaking the rules.
One of the latest initiatives being considered is the School Street scheme which restricts access to traffic on roads where there are schools during drop-off and pick-up times. Members of the council’s communities and local services scrutiny committee will investigate the issue during a task and finish session initiated by its members.
Andy Keir, Darlington Council’s cabinet member for local services, said: “We are always willing to look at new initiatives which is why we have commissioned work to look at the School Streets scheme to consider whether it is something that could be added to the measures we consider when people tell us about issues at schools”.
“Thankfully, accident figures are low and have been falling significantly in recent years but it’s not just about road safety. We know that walking and cycling to school have so many health and environmental benefits.
“Whilst it may not be possible for everyone to leave the car at home, we are committed to making sure that those who drive to school, do so in a safe and considerate way.”
Mike Renton, chair of the council's communities and local services scrutiny committee, said: “There may be challenges with this type of approach, but we are looking to see if it would work alongside the other measures the council uses. But the problems don’t end there, and that is why it is important that members of the committee are able to add valuable experience that they hear from residents, parents and schools who all have concerns.
“As a parent myself I am regularly giving feedback to school, including the issue of parents sat with their engine running whist waiting at drop off and pick up time. This isn’t just bad for the environment, it’s really bad for kids walking past. It’s that first-hand knowledge that the scrutiny process is so important for.”