Schoolchildren are making sure drivers stick to a new 20mph speed limit – by dealing with speeding drivers at their very own “Kids Court”.
Drivers caught speeding in an operation outside Park Hill Primary on Friday (16 March) were given the option of a fine – or face pupils asking difficult questions about why they were breaking the limit.
The new 20mph limit has been in force since January across the whole of the Friar Park ward.
Fifteen drivers were caught breaking the speed limit – the fastest was going at 34mph. Four were given advice at the roadside and nine chose to go before the Kids Court. Two bus drivers were prosecuted for breaking the speed limit.
Twelve schoolchildren tackled the drivers for breaking the speed limit. They posed thought-provoking and hard-hitting questions to the offenders including “How would you feel if you killed one of us” and “Why were you speeding when the road is clearly signed?”.
Although road safety has dramatically improved on Sandwell’s roads over the past 10 years – with the number of children hurt in accidents falling by nearly two thirds – over the past three years, 300 children have been injured in accidents.
Sandwell currently has 43 20mph areas covering 128km of the borough’s roads. Friar Park is one of five new areas with the limit and a further five will be considered for next financial year.
Friar Park is the first of Sandwell’s 24 wards to have a 20mph blanket speed limit and the Kids Court operation is part of enforcing the speed limit.
Deputy head teacher at Park Hill Primary Kate Jenks said: “The pupils thoroughly enjoyed taking part in Kids Court. Not only did it provide them with an extraordinary experience that allowed them to develop key social skills, it has also improved their knowledge of road safety and the importance of driving within the speed limit.
“Many of them have said that they will not speed when they become drivers. It is an experience that will remain with the pupils forever. As a school, it was an amazing opportunity to take part in such an important initiative and we would like to thank everyone involved. “ Pc Steve Horton, Wednesbury police, said: “The idea of the Kids Court is to tackle drivers’ attitudes towards speeding by getting them to see the potential consequences of exceeding speed limits, particularly around schools.
“It also helps schools, children and their families to work with us and take an active part in making our communities safer for everyone.”
The Kids Court project is part of the Sandwell Road Safety Partnership, which sees the council work with West Midlands Police and West Midlands Fire Service.
Drivers who went before the Kids Court said: “I was embarrassed”, “I felt humbled, I will remember from the conversation with the children that speed kills” and “I felt surprised, it makes you think.
Following Kids Court, West Midlands Fire Service provided education and advice regarding child car seats to parents and children on the playground.