School’s sign of trouble

Cindy McLeish at Wesburn Primary School. Picture: ROB CAREW

School holidays are over and 40km/h electronic speed signs are turned back on across the state, but not at Wesburn Primary School, which has been deemed ineligible to receive the flashing light signs installed under the Pedestrian and Safe Schools regional fund.

Speaking in parliament, Eildon MP Cindy McLeish called on the Minister for Roads to make safety a priority outside Wesburn Primary School by installing electronic speed signs.

“I have been calling for this safety measure to be installed on the Warburton Highway, outside Wesburn Primary School since 2016, yet it has fallen on deaf ears,” she said.

The State Government is currently rolling out the $6.5 million Pedestrian and Safe Schools regional program with the aim of improving poor visibility and speed compliance outside schools.

“This was the opportunity for the State Government to finally take action.”

A response from the Minister for Roads Ben Carroll said he had been advised by the Department of Transport (DoT) the speed limit signage outside Wesburn Primary School had been reviewed.

“The investigation showed that the current static 40km/h school speed zone signs are installed in accordance with the current speed zoning guidelines.

“For a site to qualify for electronic speed limit signs, it needs to meet criteria based on the speed limit outside of school hours and traffic volumes. As the section of Warburton Highway near Wesburn Primary School is posted as 50km/h outside of school hours, this site does not qualify for electronic speed limit signs.”

The response noted that DoT would continue to monitor the operation and safety of the section of Warburton Highway to determine the need for any future improvements.

Wesburn Primary School principal Anne Stenhouse said the safety of students, staff and crossing attendants had been neglected for years.

“They are regularly in danger of being hit by cars, buses, trucks, and even logging trucks,” she said.

“Drivers often do not see the current static signs and drive through way in excess of the speed limit and then are forced to pull up suddenly to avoid hitting people. There have been several documented near misses as well as abuse directed at the school crossing attendant.

“We desperately need electronic speed limit signs to alert drivers to the school crossing and keep our community safe.”

Ms McLeish said she would now take action to seek recent traffic flow numbers along the Warburton Highway in Wesburn.

“There are many more factors to consider than traffic flow and the current speed limit. DoT clearly do not understand that traffic along the Warburton Highway past Wesburn Primary School is heavy, that fog regularly covers the road and obscures drivers’ vision and that the Warburton Highway is a long, winding, dangerous highway.”