Calls for safer crossing conditions at thoroughfare

November 17, 2023 BY

Pedestrian plight: Safety measures for the crossing at Bannockburn’s High Street currently consists of flashing speed limit signage and a crossing attendant on duty during school drop off and pickup. Photo: SUPPLIED

STAFF and parents within the St Mary MacKillop Catholic Primary School community in Bannockburn are calling out for safer conditions following a near-miss incident that took place earlier this month.

Dropping her children off at the school on the morning of Friday 3 November, Hayley Turner said she’d heard the sound of screeching tyres resounding from the crossing.

“You could hear it streets away,” she said.

“What had happened was there was a man with a trailer on the back and he was distracted. He nearly went through the crossing and Kay, the school’s crossing lady, was on it.

“My eight-year-old daughter saw it and was quite upset by it. There were tyre marks on the road where it had skidded to stop.

“This isn’t the first time this has happened. I was standing there when a truck driver went straight through. There’s been so many near-misses at that crossing.”

With the school’s major crossing at High Street, Bannockburn’s major thoroughfare, principal Anthony Drill shared Ms Turner’s sentiment, saying the issue isn’t an isolated one.

“That might have been the worst one I’ve been involved with but we do have trouble with people not stopping or slowing down enough,” he said. “It’s not the safest crossing.

“A permanent solution would be wonderful, something like pedestrian lights. One of the parents mentioned a fly-over but that’s not going to happen.

“We’re a school of 300-something students. We’d have about 150 kids cross that road every morning and afternoon plus kids from Bannockburn College. There’s quite a lot of movement.

“One of our parents has written to our local member, and we’ll be doing the same and encourage some of the parents to copy that letter to send through as well.”

A Golden Plain Shire spokesperson said there’s been an uptick in the number of incidents reported in the area over the last few weeks.

“Council has received four reports of traffic incidents within the school’s vicinity over the past year, however three of those have been in the past fortnight,” the spokesperson said.

“All road users are reminded to be extra careful around schools and obey the speed limits as well as stopping at school crossings when attendants step out with the stop signs.

“Council is aware that at least some of the incidents that have occurred in the High Street area are due to drivers being distracted and not being attentive.”

The spokesperson said the municipality has been lobbying to the Department of Transport and Planning, who manages the road, for changes to High Street as a whole.

These include a speed reduction from 60kph to 50kph between the railway line and Burnside Road, pavement repairs to the through traffic lanes, and a pedestrian crossing between the railway line and Milton Street.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport and Planning said the community’s concerns are being heard.

“Victorian kids should always be safe while using our roads as they get to and from school,” the spokesperson said.

“We understand the community’s concerns and will work with Golden Plains Shire council to review the school crossing site.

“We all have a shared responsibility to do the right thing by avoiding distractions, never driving after drinking or taking drugs, always wearing a seatbelt and never speeding.”

There are currently no improvements proposed at this time for the site.

The spokesperson also said school crossing infrastructure is a municipal responsibility, and that no injury-resulting crashes have been reported at the site in the last five years.

Despite this, Ms Turner said more needs to be done to provide a safer crossing.

“There’s a stronger police presence but then it dies off and then another near-incident happens,” she said.

“I don’t know what the solution is but the flags and the lights that flash 40kph, they’re just not doing it.

“Kay, the crossing lady, before she blows the whistle for the children to cross, the front two cars are always stopped.

“So, there’s not as much issue with the children, but she’s been nearly hit multiple times.

“I’d hate for there to be a tragic accident before something happens.”