On the road to increasing safety

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A year-long campaign to make crossing State Highway 79 safer is finally gaining traction and, better still, motorists are taking notice.
Geraldine Primary School principal Andrew Leverton was working with the NZ Transport Agency last year to make the road safer for children and their parents to cross, particularly during busy periods before and after school.
Now, one year on, a selection of children, dressed in high visibility vests and armed with large school patrol signs, were trained to stop traffic safely, which allowed people to safely cross the road, also known as Cox St, at peak times.
The road is the main route for people travelling between Geraldine and Fairlie.
The children, who were trained by a police officer last term, put their road patrolling skills to the test for the first time last week _ and so far, so good.
About 25 year 6 children have volunteered their time, which means there are enough for a two-week roster.
Children would always be assisted by an adult, both morning and afternoon, year 6 teacher Fiona Wilcox said.
“For us it’s made traffic much more visible.
“Before, we just had the pedestrian crossing and the crossing sign.
“We are just trying to make it as safe as possible. We want our children to be independent. We want to know they can use the crossing safely, even if they are not with an adult.”
Mrs Wilcox said a lot had been done through the school to boost road safety awareness, including via school and Home and School Facebook pages.
“Our big concern was, moving into winter when it’s cold and frosty, that it’s visible.”
Acting principal Murray Davidson was pleased with the results so far.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever had a road patrol and we are certainly very pleased with the way it’s started and very pleased with the way the children have taken on this responsibility.”
More traffic meant something needed to be done, he said.
“The traffic flow is increasing and it’s not always tourists that you need to be aware of. Traffic can be very unpredictable, and children can be as well.
“We’ve had action and it’s great. We’ve got what we wanted _ to make things safer.”