'Russian roulette' for students: why all school crossings need flashing lights

RUNNING THE GAUNTLET: Principal Michael Croke, pictured near one of his school’s busy crossings yesterday afternoon, believes flashing lights will help improve safety at Catherine McAuley Catholic Primary School. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 				               0717sgcrossing1

RUNNING THE GAUNTLET: Principal Michael Croke, pictured near one of his school’s busy crossings yesterday afternoon, believes flashing lights will help improve safety at Catherine McAuley Catholic Primary School. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0717sgcrossing1

FLASHING lights at all schools, not just government-funded ones, is common sense, according to Catherine McAuley Catholic Primary School principal Michael Croke.

Mr Croke’s school is situated on the corner of Hill and Byng streets, two of the busiest arteries in the Orange central business district.

He says the need for flashing lights at crossings during school zone hours on those roads is paramount to the safety of his students.

“While the crossing guys are fantastic, there’s still an element of Russian roulette,” Mr Croke said, with Catherine McAuley boasting 550 student enrolments in 2014.

“At the end of the day we’re an inner-city school and our population would match any of those state schools already with lights.

“With the northern traffic now headed up to Woolies and the suburbs, our streets are busier than they’ve ever been. And they’ll only get busier.”

Statistics provided by Roads and Maritime Services state just two non-government-funded schools, James Sheahan Catholic High School and Anson Street School, benefit from the flashing light indicators during the busy school zone hours.

In total, there are 10 locations with the flashing lights in Orange.

And neither of Catherine McAuley’s school zones on Hill or Byng streets are on the list.

Member for Orange Andrew Gee insists there’s no preferential treatment handed to state schools.

“While I can certainly understand the desire to get flashing lights installed at schools as soon as possible, in determining where they are to go, preference isn’t given to government schools over non-government schools,” Mr Gee said.

“RMS determines where flashing lights are to be installed, according to risk.”

At the moment, the goal is to have all schools benefit from the flashing lights rollout in NSW by December, 2015. 

“I’m always happy to meet with concerned teachers and parents about any issue regarding flashing lights - and have done so on many occasions,” Mr Gee continued.

Mr Croke said the sooner the better for Catherine McAuley.

Freely admitting there’s been some “close calls” at both of his school’s crossings, Mr Croke said, while thankful there weren’t any serious consequences, flashing lights on both Byng and Hill streets will be welcome additions.

 “We got the spiel everyone else did ... but we don’t have state school streets and Catholic school streets. I would have thought the need would have been where the traffic is at its heaviest. It’s commonsense,” he said.

Schools with flashing lights

Bletchington Public School, Anson Street, Orange

Bletchington Public School, Matthews Avenue, Orange

Canobolas Public School, Canobolas Road, Orange

Glenroi Heights Public School, Maxwell Avenue, Orange

James Sheahan Catholic High School/Anson St School, Anson Street, Orange

Orange High School, Woodward Street and Mitchell Highway, Orange

Orange High School, Coronation Drive and Mitchell Highway, Orange

Orange Infants Public School/Orange Public School, Anson Street, Orange

Orange Public School, Moulder Street, Orange

Orange Public School, Kite Street, Orange

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