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Drivers urged to slow down near schools as flashing signs suffer technical fault

By Alan Hendry

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Highland Council is warning parents and pupils that part-time flashing 20 mph signs around the region's schools will not be operating as normal when pupils go back from August 12 onwards.

The fault has been blamed on a technical error caused by the signs being inactive over the lockdown period. Schools have been closed since mid-March because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Councillor John Finlayson, chairman of the education committee, called the glitch "unfortunate" but said it was no excuse for speeding.

Motorists are being advised to drive within 20 mph near schools for the sake of pupil safety regardless of whether or not signs are flashing.

Road policing officers are also urging drivers to slow down when youngsters go back from their summer break.

The council says it has been documented that about five per cent of pedestrians would die if struck by a vehicle travelling at 20 mph, increasing to about 40 per cent for vehicles travelling at 30 mph, about 80 per cent for vehicles travelling at 40 mph and close to 100 per cent for speeds over 50 mph.

Many schools in the Highlands have 20 mph limits during school hours and drivers are advised to be aware of the local limits.

Sergeant Chris Murray of Police Scotland said: "It is well documented that driving at inappropriate speeds reduces your ability to react to unexpected changes on the road and is a significant factor in serious injury and fatal crashes.

"Near schools this means that a speeding driver is putting the lives of children at risk, and this is not a risk worth taking.

"We all have a duty to keep our roads safe and motorists should be aware that speeding is not minor or risk-free – it is a serious, dangerous and anti-social activity. We will continue to carry out proactive patrols near schools to educate those who put others at risk by driving at inappropriate speeds and will take enforcement action where necessary."

Councillor Finlayson said: “While it is unfortunate that the part-time 20 mph signs around our schools are not working, this is no excuse for speeding. Highland Council is fully supportive of Police Scotland’s actions to enforce speed restrictions that are in place around our schools to protect our children.

“Highland Council has for many years actively supported the introduction of enforcement of 20 mph around schools. Between 2005 and 2009 the authority introduced full and part-time 20 mph limits at over 200 schools across the region.

“Motorists are reminded that if they speed in the vicinity of Highland schools then the penalties will be tough. Highland Council and Police Scotland are clear that if motorists are caught speeding near Highland schools then robust enforcement action will take place.”

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