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Sunday Mail (QLD) - Sunday 5 June, 2005

Speed Kills

By Duncan Fine
Page: 19
Section: Body and Soul
Region: Melbourne Circulation. 605,000
Type: Capital City Daily
Size: 434.68 sq.cms.

School speed zones save lives, so why are so many of our motorists still not paying attention?

Have you ever seen the movie The World According To Garp, based on a novel by John Irving? In one part of the film, Garp moves with his family to a quiet house only to find himself terrorised each day by a crazy driver speeding down the tree-lined suburban streets in a pick-up truck. Finally, Garp corners the guy and teaches him some basic courtesy by smashing his truck with a baseball bat.

Oooh baby, I know how he feels. Every day, like thousands of other parents across Australia, I walk my young children to school. And every day we see the big road signs limiting speed in the school zone. And every day hoons race past, ignoring the signs.

Here's my message to the guys who drive their big rev-head V8 cars at high speed past schoolchildren: wouldn't it be simpler just to buy a T-shirt that says "I have a small penis"? If you have to express your masculinity by scaring kids, I can only assume you're a bit deficient in the trouser department.

In 2002, a report from the NRMA (the NSW motoring body) found 65 per cent of motorists break the speed limit in school zones. The findings led to calls from road safety campaigners for speed cameras and flashing orange lights within all school zones. "It's outrageous that schools aren't protected with fixed speed cameras - they'd save lives," said chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Harold Scruby.

Three years later and what's been done? A trial of flashing lights at one school, and that's it. All governments across Australia are equally negligent.

Of course you'll hear car lovers complain about how difficult it is for drivers to be changing speed zones so often, to which I say, "Have you heard of traffic lights?"

And have you looked at the stats? Pedestrian accidents are a leading cause of child injury in Australia. For example, from 1998 to 2002 there were 27 child (aged five to 12 years) pedestrians killed on NSW roads alone, and more than 1500 kids were injured.

However, a few weeks ago we saw the second nationwide Walk Safely To School Day. This helps teach kids about pedestrian safety. This year it was especially heartening to see great people like Australia's best Governor, in my opinion, Quentin Bryce of Queensland, getting behind the initiative and walking her granddaughter to school in Brisbane. For information about how your school can take part next year, see www.walk.com.au

Q How do I stop endless, and I mean endless, fights between my sons, eight and six?

A Read Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (HarperResource). This book says to listen to both of them and have faith in them to find their own solutions. If you're not a fan of American pop psychology, visit betterhealth.vic.gov.au and type in "sibling rivalry". You can also go to www.relate.gov.au/parenting/rivalry for some tips and ideas on solving this problem.


If you have a question for Duncan, email him at fined@sundaytelegraph.com.au Duncan Fine is a full-time father/writer who currently works for Hi-5.

Unparenting by Duncan Fine and Catharine Lumby will be published by Pan Macmillan next year.

Caption: Look to the right, look to the left, look to the right again.

Drivers need to realise that crossing roads is serious business for kids

© 2021 Pedestrian Council of Australia