Students from Scoil Padraig in Westport were trained to use speed guns similar to what gardaí use in a bid to crackdown on motorists who race past their schools. Sixth class pupils from Scoil Padraig, aged 12, joined forces with the road safety Office of Mayo County Council and Westport smarter travel to hold Speedwatch sessions outside their school.
The move follows increasing concern from teachers, board of management, parents, and students about the speed at which vehicles travel on the road outside the school, along with issues regarding parking, turning, dropping off, and collecting children, etc.
Groups of two students at a time worked with the road safety officer where they were coached in how to use the specialist speed guns.
Details of those caught travelling over the speed limit were recorded and a survey was compiled, some speeds recorded were as high as 58kph in a 50kph zone and passing a pedestrian crossing with some motorists failing to stop to let students cross at the pedestrian crossing.
The idea for the students to use the guns alongside the road safety office is part of a wider campaign by the school to reduce speed at the school.
The road safety issue has been raised with local politicians, Gardaí, and Mayo County Council over a prolonged period.
Noel Gibbons, road safety officer, said: "There have been ongoing issues with the speed of traffic passing this school and we have received complaints. There have been a few near misses. In general the speed of vehicles outside the school is poor and it is posing a danger to the children. Messages go out regularly in school newsletters and the school management sent out notices home via the pupils to all parents. It is hoped that by working with the students it will really highlight to drivers that their speeding is putting these very children at risk, it is planned to put a School warden operating at the School crossing."
Mrs Sharon Brady , the teacher who co-ordinated the campaign, said students were excited at taking part in the Speedwatch sessions. She said "I think it is a wonderful idea to get the children to help with the Speedwatch sessions. The students really enjoy being involved. We have problems with people driving too fast past the school and we are constantly worried about the situation. We have had a few serious accidents at the school with passing traffic. We are very concerned about continuing road safety issues. Hopefully, with the children getting involved it will highlight the dangers of exceeding the speed limit."
Mr. Fergus Seoighe Principal: "This has been a really great example of what can be achieved when different agencies and the young people of the town work together to solve a problem."