Speeders face kids’ court in unique hearing

Speeders face kids’ court in unique hearing

12 February 2020

SPEEDING drivers outside a primary school in the Castlewellan area were judged by a panel of school children at a unique court recently.

Six drivers — who were stopped by police driving past Annsborough Integrated Primary School over the 30mph limit in late January— were brought before the kids’ court where they were given a chance to explain their actions.

The drivers had the choice of receiving a fixed penalty notice or being grilled over why they were speeding and if they were aware they could have hit, injured, or, even killed a child — all opted to appear at the school.

As well as the drivers being asked why they were speeding, they also faced a number of questions about road safety by the young judges who were very keen to educate them about the dangers of driving too fast especially where children are present and for adverse weather conditions.

Constable Helen Black, from PSNI Road Policing, explained: “Police have been working alongside teachers and staff at Annsborough Integrated Primary School in order to educate the pupils about road safety.  

“The PSNI Road Policing visits, lessons and kids’ court have been helping the pupils at the school understand their own vulnerability as road users and the dangers of vehicles travelling too fast. 

“The programme has also been helping to highlight the importance of taking more care during adverse weather conditions; always keeping within the speed limit; remaining alert for dangers; looking out for vulnerable road users and the importance of helping to keep everyone safe on our roads within this caring and tight-knit community.”

The officer highlighted that a car travelling at 30mph takes twice as long to stop as a car travelling at 20mph. 

“If someone is hit at 20mph they are a lot less likely to be killed, or, seriously injured than if they are hit by a car travelling at 30mph,” she added. “The PSNI message is loud and clear — Stay slower. Alert is safer.”

She outlined that the main goal of the project is to change driver behaviour through the experience of personally meeting with the pupils and answering their questions. 

The officer continued: “It isn’t about trying to ‘catch people out’. It’s about making our roads safer for all who use them, whether they are children or, adults and whether they are pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, or motorists.”

The school principal, Mrs Lynda Brown, said: “‘We are delighted to be part of this innovative and lifesaving campaign alongside PSNI Road Policing. In the lead-up to kids’ court, the children have been learning about road safety and the dangers of excessive speed.

“We feel it is a very worthwhile project that will not only impact the children and their families, but also the wider community of Annsborough and Castlewellan. Our young people want to remind road users to slow down, obey the speed limits and to actively help keep everyone safe.”

Policing and Community Safety Partnership chairperson Judith Thompson added: “The PCSP welcomes this initiative promoting and instilling road safety messages with school pupils and motorists.

“The court experience drives home the potential consequences of careless and dangerous driving with the aim to change behaviours and attitudes to road safety.”