The Advertiser - Tuesday 28 February, 2006

25km/h zone doubts as child injuries soar

By Sophie Elsworth

HUNDREDS of children have been injured or killed when struck by cars in the past six years, sparking calls for a review of school speed zones.

Fourteen children have been killed and 456 injured in pedestrian accidents since 2000, figures obtained by The Advertiser show.

Transport, Energy and Infrastructure Department figures show 69 children were hit in 2005 - with 11 serious and 58 minor injuries - and 35 per cent of children were hit between 3pm and 4pm.

This is an increase of more than 28 per cent in injuries since 2004, when two children were killed, 12 seriously injured and 33 received minor injuries.

Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby has criticised the State Government for failing to follow all other states in enforcing permanent 40km/h speed zones around schools. SA is the only state in which drivers must slow their vehicles to 25km/h in a school zone at any time of the day or night when a child is present in the zone.

However, motorists can travel at normal speed limits when no child is present in the school zones.

"When motorists don't see a pedestrian they can speed. This is just ludicrous," Mr Scruby said. "It would be much more effective if the Government introduced 40km/h zones around schools from 8am-9.30am and 2.30pm-4pm like every other state.

"It should be mandatory that people slow down at school zones."

More than half of those injured in 2005 were aged between 10 and 15, with at least one child hit every four days.

Transport Minister Patrick Conlon did not support any move to change the speed restrictions around schools.

"Advice still suggests we have a very safe model, and quite frankly, 25km/h is slower than 40km/h," Mr Conlon said.

However, Opposition police spokesman Robert Brokenshire called for more research on where the pedestrian collisions were occurring.

"I think research needs to be done on where children are getting hit, whether it is near schools or on the way home or near shopping centres," Mr Brokenshire said.

School-focused programs include Safe Routes to Schools, Walking School Bus and Bike Education.

RAA traffic and safety manager Chris Thomson urged the Government to implement more road safety education in the schools.

"Children are often unpredictable on the roads, and motorists need to take this into account," he said.

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