SCHOOLS SEEK TO CURB 4WDS
By MEL MARTIN
WHILE Tyalla Public School principal Diane Blevan feels that keeping 4WDs away from school would be safer for children, she believes extra driver training might be more feasible.
"I don't know how they would enforce a ban on four-wheel-drives around schools. It would be very hard," Ms Blevan said.
An inquest into the death of five-year-old Bethany Holder who was killed by a 4WD in 2002 has led NSW Deputy State Coroner to recommend banning 4WDs over two tonnes from within 200 metres of primary schools.
"I can see how a four-wheel-drive would be more dangerous around little children. (Little children) are hard to see and they don't have much road sense," Ms Blevan said.
"So I think giving the drivers of four-wheel-drives special licences and extra training, like they do for motorbikes, would be useful."
The Deputy State Coroner also recommended that the Roads and Traffic Authority introduce special licensing for 4WDs, as well asincreased supervision of traffic inside school grounds and keeping all school pedestrian traffic separated from cars.
Bethany's parents Lisa and Daniel Holder said they were pleased with the recommendations.
"Personally, I haven't got a problem with four-wheel-drives themselves," Mr Holder said. "It's vehicles in schools is my main issue.
"What we want to ask is why should cars or vehicles at all be driven through schools?"
The driver of the vehicle, Joan Maclennan, also welcomed the recommendations, urging city drivers not to buy 4WDs.
"My only explanation is that she was below my vision of sight," Ms Maclennan said.
NSW Premier Bob Carr said that while he would talk to experts about the recommendations, he did not think they were practical.
"Anything that prevents a young life from the trauma of an accident, from maiming, or from its extinction as the result of a road accident around a school, we'll seriously explore," he said.
Four-Wheel Drive NSW and ACT president Robert Kelly said the recommendations were discriminatory.
"If it's necessary to ban vehicles from school grounds, then it should be all vehicles, not just four-wheel-drives," he said.
He also did not support the coroner's recommendation for special four-wheel-drive licences, saying the attitudes of all drivers needed changing.
Coffs Harbour Public School principal Elaine Norman agrees, saying she has considerable concerns about the area where children are being picked up at her school.
"We don't have a zebra crossing, just a flag crossing, and people don't seem to be aware that you have to stop. I'm more concerned about cars in general not being aware of safety," she said.
"All of us have to be more considerate of pedestrians in general."
NSW Roads Minister Michael Costa ? who drives a 4WD ? said he would pursue a change to national standards that would require the installation of proximity locators in new vehicles. The devices are fitted to the rear of vehicles and sound a loud alarm as it reverses towards an object.