A ‘kids’ court’ and a house mural: 2 very unusual ways of tackling speeding

Posted on November 28th, 2011 by GEM Motoring Assist

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All about how a primary school courtroom and a man with a bucket of paint have been tackling the dangers of speeding drivers

Little did the driver speeding past the small junior school realise that a short while later she would be reduced to tears while facing a ‘kids court’ of pupils.

But this, Wirral Council reports, is what happened to one driver caught breaking the 30mph speed limit outside Greasby Junior School in Merseyside.

Road safety associations like GEM Motoring Assist are keen to support measures which result in safer roads for the members they provide breakdown cover to. Speeding drivers can endanger other drivers’ lives and breaking the limit is particularly reprehensible when it occurs near schools…

The emotional encounter between the speeding driver and a panel of school children mentioned at the start of this article was the idea of Greasby’s head teacher Adrian Martin. Mr Martin wanted to get people convicted of speeding to meet the children who might have been injured by their actions.

The local police force approved of the head teacher’s idea and decided to apply this form of justice to drivers caught speeding past the school over a three-hour period.

Nine drivers were caught speeding during this time and were all offered the choice of accepting a £60 fine and having points put on their licence or being questioned by their potential victims.

Three of the drivers chose the fine and the points; the other six dared to face the court.

Mr Martin, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on 25th November 2011, revealed that on the day of the court hearing traffic police were stationed outside the school gates and “we had the children ready in our classroom in courtroom fashion”.

Mr Martin said that the speeding drivers were “extremely embarrassed and very sorry”. He added that one lady in particular was very upset.

A spokesperson for Wirral Council went even further and said that one driver was “reduced to tears” after the children illustrated the consequences their actions might have caused.

Katie, a pupil who spoke to the drivers, said: “People said they were late for work and that they didn’t know the speed limit.”

Her headmaster said: “I think it’s an experience the drivers will undoubtedly remember for the rest of their lives rather than the effects of having the points on their licence which in effect after three years gets wiped off.”

But newspaper columnist Peter Hitchens, also speaking on the same programme, said: “The drivers who are most likely to speed again are probably the ones who didn’t turn up to the restorative justice session.”

David Williams MBE, CEO of road safety association GEM Motoring Assist, shares Mr Hitchens’ concerns that drivers can opt out of meeting potential victims but does think that the scheme is in general “an excellent idea”.

He said: “The vast majority of speeding drivers don’t speed out of malice so it is good that ideas like kids’ courts can show law-breakers the consequences of their actions.

Mr Williams added: “Research has shown that when transgressors meet their victims they often show a profound attitude change. If projects such as these can prevent even just one driver from causing a serious accident then they have to be worthwhile.”

The 30mph house mural

The Wirral kids’ court is not the only example of members of the public coming up with innovative ideas to deter drivers from speeding.

Earlier this week (on 23rd November 2011) it was reported that a Devon man has painted a 15-foot 30mph sign on to the side of his house.

Tim Backhouse’s sign is as high as most of the lorries he says regularly speed past his house in the village of Bow. It took the self-employed artist five hours and a couple of buckets of paint to complete the task.

He said: “I know it might seem like a bit of a drastic measure but I’m sick and tired of motorists speeding through.”

The father of three added: “This way, I thought there’s no way they can miss the sign and might just get the message.”

Department for Transport guidance suggests that the sign is illegal and some experts have voiced concern that the distraction of seeing the sign could cause accidents.

However, Devon County Council has not ordered its removal deeming that the painting is on private property.

You only have until 5th December to see Mr Backhouse’s unusual mural as he intends to paint over it on that date.