New fines, demerits target school zones

MOTORISTS break road rules in school zones 'all the time', according to one Coffs Harbour parent who regularly helps with school traffic control.

Like many other parents she had not heard about the tough new fines and increased demerit points that came into force yesterday for motorists who speed, double park or disobey crossing supervisors in school zones.

For the first time, double parking in a school zone and stopping in a bus zone in a school zone will attract two demerit points and increased fines from $179 to $231.

The tougher fines and demerits will apply only when a school zone is operating, usually 8-9.30am and 2.30-4pm on school days. Fines will increase by one level for various driving and parking offences.

The new rules see fines rise from a minimum fine of $77 to $128, with other fines jumping to $231, $308 and $384.

NSW Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal said double parking in a school zone was not a trivial offence and could have tragic consequences 'in the blink of an eye', as could answering the mobile phone or doing an illegal u-turn.

He said speed was the biggest killer on NSW roads and speeding in school zones was stupid and reckless.

Speed was a problem for schools situated on main roads, but parking in the wrong zone was identified as the biggest traffic problem at her children's school by Coffs Harbour mother Vikki Simmons, whose twin daughters attend Narranga Public School.

"It amazes me, because it's the kids' safety at stake," she said.

"It ruins visibility. We have parking officers here one day, but (the cars) are back the next day."

She said she expected the extra penalties would reduce the number of offences in school zones.

Narranga parent Phil Brown said the school should have many more designated parking spaces in Red Cedar Drive, where every afternoon sees parents' cars parked all over residents' front lawns.

Another parent, Bill MacDonald, said he felt sorry for Red Cedar Drive residents, but parents had to have somewhere to park while collecting their children.

Debra Hall said most parents drove carefully and Sandra Bloss said she had not seen anyone speeding, but both agreed parking was the big issue at Narranga.

Coffs Harbour City Council rangers have advised schools about the increased fines and demerits and many schools have given parents notes or included the information in school newsletters.

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