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'How will police monitor traffic in enhanced zones?'

Parents welcome stricter rules but ask how they will be enforced

PARENTS have given a mixed reaction to plans to slap motorists with an extra demerit point if they commit offences within new "enhanced" school zones.

While they generally welcome the measure, some have questioned how the Traffic Police will be able to carry out the enforcement, with more than 150 of the zones in Singapore.

Police said that more details will be released in the second half of the year when the harsher penalty will be implemented.

Real estate agent Nicole Teo, 38, who has two daughters, said: "There are so many schools and the peak hours happen at the same time. How are the Traffic Police going to carry out their enforcement?

"We all want safety for our children. There can be harsher penalties but the enforcement has to be there. If not, it defeats the purpose."

The harsher penalty was unveiled in Parliament by Second Minister for Home Affairs S.Iswaran earlier this month.

He said it is to ensure that motorists take extra care when they are near schools. The penalty is targeted at motorists who commit speeding, careless driving or inconsiderate driving offences, or run red lights.

A new driver on probation who is caught running a red light in an enhanced school zone can have his licence revoked, said Mr Iswaran.

The enhanced zones can be found at most primary and special schools here. There are bigger traffic signs to indicate where the zone starts and ends.

Part of the road outside the school gate is also coloured red to alert motorists to children crossing.

However, Ms Teo said that she has driven into school zones before without knowing it. She suggested that the authorities consider making the signs "more prominent and alert motorists earlier that they are entering a school zone ahead".

Housewife Vivien Ong, 40, who fetches her three daughters from school every day, welcomed the harsher penalty for errant motorists, as long as it is not aimed at parents who stop to pick up their children outside the schools.

Mr Lee Nam Cheong, 48, who lost his nine-year-old son in a traffic accident outside Sembawang Primary School in January last year, does not think the harsher penalty will make school zones safer.

He said: "Different schools will have different traffic situations and problems. The Traffic Police should work closely with the schools individually."

Madam Foo Mui Chuw, the principal of Chongfu School in Yishun, said that schools should continue to engage and educate both parents and pupils on road safety matters. "Children need to be constantly reminded about road safety and we do that during assembly time."

She added that the school had the Ministry of Education's (MOE) support to hire two extra guards to be stationed inside and outside the compound to help with traffic flow.

Mrs Jacinta Lim, principal of Yangzheng Primary School in Serangoon, feels that parents need to be educated first before punitive action is taken.

A ministry spokesman told The Straits Times: "MOE supports the efforts by the Traffic Police to enforce stricter deterrent measures in school zones.

"We will continue to monitor the traffic conditions in school zones and provide timely feedback to the Traffic Police.

"The road safety of our students is the collective responsibility of motorists, parents and schools. Motorists should play their part by slowing down in the vicinity of schools."

joycel@sph.com.sg

This story was first published in The Straits Times on March 19, 2013

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