09:00AM, Friday 09 October 2020
A headteacher is appealing to commuters to drive carefully as they pass through White Waltham village in a bid to keep pupils safe.
Matt Thompson, headteacher of White Waltham CofE Academy, has described how children are at risk from overtaking vehicles when the school’s ‘stop and drop’ system is in operation.
The system is designed to help ease morning congestion along Waltham Road, with parents stopping for a very short period of time while a member of staff helps their child out of the car.
When there is a number of children ready to cross the road a lollipop lady then accompanies them to the other side - but impatient drivers are reluctant to wait and overtake when it is not safe.
“It’s not illegal what they’re doing but it’s just really dangerous,” Mr Thompson said.
“All they’ve got to do is stop one minute while they get out the door, but there’s no patience, they don’t wait.”
Mr Thompson said there was ‘a real near miss in lockdown’ where a driver over-took while a lollipop lady was seeing a pupil across the road.
“A guy just ignored it, overtook, and missed him [the pupil] within five centimetres,” he said.
“I’m just seriously worried a child is going to get injured or die.”
To try and alert drivers to the stop and drop system Mr Thompson and four members of staff in high-vis jackets are outside the school every morning.
There is also the lollipop lady and a member of staff on the opposite side of the road with a sign that says ‘kiss and drop please do not over-take’.
“There is a lot of people who I’m seeing every morning that are driving through and they get it,” he said.
“It’s people I don’t recognise who are coming through here, who don’t normally drive through, they’re the ones who are overtaking.”
Mr Thompson said when drivers are challenged on their behaviour they become ‘aggressive and confrontational’ and that he has been sworn and shouted at.
He said he is ‘keen to work with the Royal Borough to see how we can make the road a safer place’ – whether that be signage or road calming measures.
A spokesman for the Royal Borough said: “Road safety in our borough is a priority for the council, and we strongly condemn the kind of poor driving and behaviour reported by the head teacher of White Waltham CofE Academy.
“We work closely with schools and our partners, such as the Highways Agency and the police, on road safety issues.
“The safety of everyone in the borough is our greatest concern.
“We continue to ask all residents and visitors, to drive carefully at all times, especially around locations such as schools where stop and drop systems are in operation, many of which are in place to support COVID-secure activity.”