Danger warning for school crush-zone

A parent and child cross amongst stalled traffic and parked cars during drop-off time on Woodlee Street. 190894_02 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

You don’t have to tell Louise Ferguson about the dangers of the school-day traffic jams at Woodlee Street outside Dandenong North Primary School.

Ms Ferguson was crushed between two vehicles as she tried to “manage” traffic so she could get her car out of her driveway during school drop-off time on 13 December.

As she helped a learner driver extricate their car from a tight parking spot, the driver wedged Ms Ferguson between her vehicle and a parked van.

Ms Ferguson’s pelvis was fractured and her lumbar spine damaged as a result.

It came after many dire warnings from the school and families to Greater Dandenong Council.

Every school peak time, the narrow street is clogged with two-way traffic glacially weaving through parked cars and one lane of space.

Despite the risk, parents and children cross between the stagnant cars.

“They should make it one-way at school peak-times,” Ms Ferguson said.

“It would be safer and the traffic would be flowing.

“What’s it going to take for them to do something – a child to lose their life out there?”

At other times, there is reported speeding and a nearby “death trap” corner at Edward Avenue regularly cut or even missed by cars.

Ms Ferguson’s car has been written off by a speeding car, another motorist was pushed off the road onto her nature strip. She tells of another car careering through a neighbour’s fence and narrowly missing the resident’s kids.

Dandenong North Primary School principal Kevin Mackay agrees with making the street one-way, with a parking area reserved for pick-ups and drop-offs.

A driver drove through the school fence last year, swerving to miss another motorist trying to

beat the traffic” in Woodlee Street, Mr Mackay said.

The school’s population has more than doubled since 30 years ago, spilling more parked cars into the neighbouring streets.

He said the problem had “blown up” since Dandenong Hospital staff had been forced to park in neighbouring streets.

“I understand the angst of our residents and I share it.

“We’ve talked to the council over decades. We’ve revisited it many, many times.

“If it was me picking up my kids, I’d park near the shops in Menzies Avenue and I’d walk down.”

At a recent council meeting, Councillor Matthew Kirwan called for the council to investigate traffic calming measures and extra school crossings.

Greater Dandenong engineering services director Julie Reid said investigations found a one-way system on Woodlee Street would not help traffic flow or safety.

“The traffic volumes and congestion on David Street mean that a southbound one-way system would not noticeably reduce congestion.

“A northbound one-way system would mean that all pupils would have to cross the road to get picked up.

“Introducing a one-way system would compromise road safety, encourage higher traffic speeds and increase the likelihood of a serious accident.”

Ms Reid said parents parking slightly further away from the school were able to avoid the congestion.

Your first stop before buying a home. View the whole picture.