Innovative scheme to encourage motorists to drive safely


Arwel Owen, school crossing patrol and Ysgol y Garnedd Headteacher, Llion Williams

A joint-campaign in the Penrhosgarnedd area of Gwynedd is encouraging motorists to drive sensibly and respect the school crossing patrol staff who work to secure that school pupils can walk to and from school safely.

 Following concerns raised by staff, parents and pupils of Ysgol y Garnedd over recent months regarding some motorists’ attitude towards the school crossing patrol staff, Gwynedd Council’s Road Safety team and North Wales Police officers have been monitoring the situation.

 Having considered the matter in detail, a decision has been made that the school crossing patrol officer that assists Y Garnedd pupils to cross the road to the school will wear a body camera. This will enable staff from the Council’s transportation service to monitor the situation and refer any evidence of irresponsible driving on to the police if necessary.

 Councillor Dafydd Meurig, Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member who leads on transport matters said: “The majority of motorists respect the important work that school crossing patrol staff carry out by helping children to walk to and from school at the start and end of each day.

 “But in some instances, a small number of motorists can be thoughtless and ignore the school crossing patrol staff when they step out into the road to help children to cross. This obviously is a concern; our hope is that this pilot scheme - the first of its type in Wales - will raise awareness of the need to respect school crossing patrol staff and the important work they do.

 “The hope is that the officer won’t need to use the camera, but if motorists drive irresponsibly, it will be possible to use the camera and to send the evidence on to the police to investigate.”

 Ysgol y Garnedd Headteacher, Llion Williams said: "The situation has been a concern for us for some time whilst trying to protect pupils, staff and parents as they cross the road at the beginning and end of the school day. Most motorists respect Mr Arwel (crossing road) and very few drivers ignore him and endanger his safety and the safety of the children and parents.

 "We welcome the new camera in order to record any instances of drivers ignoring the highway code. We look forward to working with officers from the Police and Gwynedd Council's Road Safety team to ensure that everyone who crosses the road can do so safely."

 Arwel Owen, the school crossing patrol at Ysgol y Garnedd noted: “The majority of people slow down and stop when I step out to the road to help children to cross, but there are a few who think they have a right to ignore and drive on. What I’m trying to do is ensure that pupils can cross the road safely, so I hope that this scheme is a way of making sure that every car stops – the important thing is the safety of the children.”

 Inspector Dave Cust from the North Wales Police Roads Policing Unit added: "We would like to take this opportunity to remind road users of the importance of obeying road traffic signs and requests and driving safely, especially around schools.

 "The poor attitude to road safety around schools displayed by a small number of drivers is concerning and I’d like to encourage road users to treat everybody with respect and not to endanger other people.

 “Any evidence of motoring offences captured on the camera will be submitted to North Wales Police via Operation Snap – a campaign launched last year to highlight dangerous driving. Footage captured on dashcams can be submitted via the website and will be looked at to see if there is enough evidence to prosecute.

 “Those who are prepared to risk their lives and the lives of others are not welcome on our roads. If people know there is a much bigger chance of being prosecuted and risk losing their licence then maybe they’ll think twice about committing these offences.”

 There are 20 school crossing patrol staff in Gwynedd. Whilst there is no statutory duty on the Council to provide school crossing patrols, the Council have reviewed the sites outside of schools, with crossing patrols being employed where necessary.