NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, Treasurer Mike Baird and Roads Minister Duncan Gay today announced an acceleration of the school zone flashing lights program, to ensure every school in NSW has a set of flashing lights by December 2015.
Mr O’Farrell said the upcoming State Budget will increase funding for the program from $19.5 million to $32.5 million – it means an additional 1,500 schools will get lights by 2015 that otherwise would have missed out.
“This is a landmark decision which will further enhance road safety and the safety of children around schools,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“Our children are our most vulnerable and inexperienced road users – the NSW Government is committed to doing whatever we can to protect them.
“Flashing lights are one of the most effective tools we have to slow down motorists near schools – I’m delighted we’re able to extend this successful program to every school.”
Mr Baird said the NSW Government will continue to prioritise funding to deliver better services and infrastructure across the State.
“Despite the financial challenges facing the state, the NSW Government will continue to make funds available where they are most needed,” Mr Baird said.
“Expense control remains critical. Through responsible decisions we can deliver this important safety measure sooner, which will cover the main entry point to every single school in NSW,” he said.
Currently, there are more than 3,150 schools in NSW and over 10,000 school zones.
Mr Gay said at the end of the 2012/13 financial year, government funded flashing lights will be installed at 1,153 school zones, covering 1,263 schools.
“The decision now means that 1,500 schools, which would have been without the flashing lights at the end of the current program in June 2015, will now have their own lights installed by the end of 2015,” he said.
Mr Gay said the new program had been achieved by reducing the cost of each set of lights by more than two-thirds, from $25,000 to $8,400.
“These new models of flashing lights have slight modifications, but include essential safety features such as back to base technology to allow for proactive maintenance and the remote adjustment of lights,” Mr Gay said.
“We’ve looked at a two-pronged approach to get a set of flashing lights at every school in the State.
“Phase One, which will be completed by 30 June this year, will see the rollout of the traditional flashing lights covering 1,263 schools.
“Phase Two, which will cover the remaining 1,500 schools, is now possible because of this modified version which is more cost effective.”
Phase One lights will be installed at schools which are on roads which are deemed high risk, while phase two lights will be installed at schools which are on low speed, local and lower risk roads.
The Phase Two lights are inspired by the lights Peter Olsen, a flashing lights advocate, has installed in the Ryde electorate.
“In addition, any new school will have at least one set of flashing lights, so all schools are covered,” Mr Gay said.
“RMS will proceed with a tender process to procure the flashing lights technology from the market at the best value for taxpayers.
“Peter Olsen inspired this government to consider looking at more efficient ways of building the lights so that all schools could eventually see at least one set of flashing lights.
“This government places a huge emphasis on the safety of our school children.
“We accelerated the flashing lights program back in March this year, meaning that school zone flashing lights are now being installed at nearly three times the rate of former Labor Government,” Mr Gay said.