‘Do you really want to endanger a child?’

Sending a message . . . Mornington School principal Brent Caldwell uses signs in Durham St and Elgin Rd to encourage people to park legally to ensure the safety of children. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Dunedin principals are working to stop motorists parking illegally outside schools and endangering children’s lives.

Mornington School principal Brent Caldwell said he had sandwich-board signs created this term and started placing them on yellow “no-stopping lines” in Durham St and near the pedestrian crossing in Elgin Rd.

The signs read: “Parking here could endanger a child’s life. Think . . .”

When a vehicle was parked illegally near the crossing, it made it difficult for motorists to see people crossing and for pupils on patrol to see approaching traffic.

Durham St was narrow and busy so when vehicles parked on yellow lines or across footpaths, it made it a dangerous place for children to be, he said.

Some parents continued to park illegally despite the signs being out.

“Do you really want to endanger a child?” Mr Caldwell asked.

The school had asked the Dunedin City Council to make Durham St one-way and create a “kiss and drop zone” for parents to use but the request was denied.

Most parents parked legally in spaces further away and walked their children to school, he said.

He had put notes and lollipops on legally parked vehicles, Mr Caldwell said.

The note reads: “Thank you for keeping our kids and school safe by choosing to park correctly”.

Mr Caldwell said he got the idea for the sandwich boards from former Fairfield School principal Andy Larson.

Fairfield School principal Greg Lees said Mr Larson had signs made after seeing similar signs outside a school in Scotland.

Think . . . Fairfield School principal Greg Lees uses signs in Sickels St to encourage people to park legally. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

The signs had been put on yellow lines in Sickels St for about a year, he said.

“This dead-end street is the pick-up and drop-off zone for 425 children.”

Children aged between 5 and 9 did not have “road safety awareness” and were in danger in the “highly congested” street.

He wanted parents to park safely in other streets, such as Old Brighton Rd, and walk their children to school.

He had raised safety concerns, such as traffic density and a lack of parking, in a “positive” meeting that included council transportation safety team leader Hjarne Poulsen.

Possible solutions, such as creating angle parking in Main Rd and a “painted drop zone” in Sickels St, were discussed, Mr Lees said.

Tainui School principal Shelley Wilde said she had ordered two of the signs used by Fairfield and Mornington Schools to put on yellow lines outside her school.

Motorists stopping on yellow lines impeded the view of people using the pedestrian crossing near the school, she said.

“When people can’t see, that’s when accidents happen.”

The council hosted a “school traffic safety group” each term to discuss ways to improve safety around schools, she said.

She was on the group as an Otago Primary Principals’ Association executive member.

The existence of the group signalled the council’s willingness to listen to concerns and improve safety around schools, she said.

Mr Poulsen said he was part of the group, along with staff from the NZ Transport Agency and police.

Motorists parking on yellow lines was a problem for many Dunedin schools, he said.

“It’s a big issue.”

The council was working with at least 10 schools on parking issues, he said.

Parking wardens had been deployed to ticket offending motorists but it had failed to stop the behaviour.