Lollicam safety plan to put brakes on dangerous 'drive through' motorists

Lollipops used by school crossing patrollers have been fitted with mini cameras for the first time in Scotland to crack down on motorists who fail to stop for them.

Glasgow City Council launched the "lollicam" initiative at three primary schools yesterday after recording one such "drive through" a day across the city. Some have involved near misses, with patrollers having to jump out of the way of vehicles.

Drivers face fines of up to 1,000 and three penalty points added to their licences for the offence - with the cameras helping to provide evidence to secure convictions.

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The lollicams will initially be used at Knightswood Primary, St Thomas' Primary in Riddrie and Ashpark Primary in Thornliebank, which all have high incidences of "drive throughs".

Within weeks, however, they will be moved to some of the council's other 407 crossing patrols with similar problems, as part of a trial for the rest of the year. If they are successful, more lollicams will be deployed.

School crossing patroller Catherine Gibson, 59, died in January after being hit by a lorry as she helped children cross the road near St Anne's Primary in the Gallowgate area of Glasgow. She died in hospital of her injuries after the incident on Alma Street.

The lollicams look virtually identical to normal patrol lollipops, but have two cameras housed on either side of the pole and a digital recording device in a unit the size of a large matchbox on top of the pole.

The cameras are activated when the pole is placed on the ground. They cost 1,000 - five times as much as a normal lollipop. Warning signs will be posted on roads surrounding schools where the cameras are operating.

Lollicams are used by several English councils, including Stockport and Manchester. Other Scottish local authorities are believed to be interested in following Glasgow's lead. Cordia, the Glasgow City Council company which employs crossing patrollers, said it would use more cameras if the pilot was successful.

Managing director Fergus Chambers said: "The idea behind the scheme is to deter dangerous or inconsiderate driving in and around school zones.

"Drive throughs are a big issue for our patrollers, putting at risk their own safety and that of the children they cross.

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"In one six-week period this year, we had 30 reported drive throughs across the city, and that does not account for those that continue to go unreported. This is about discouraging bad practice, not catching bad drivers."

Motoring groups said the move was a disappointing reflection of bad driving.Neil Greig, policy and research director for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: "It's a sad indictment of some drivers' behaviour that Glasgow feels it has to have cameras on lollipops. However, those involved are probably repeat offenders, so this equipment should help catch them."

Headteacher Janet Mackie said: "We are delighted that Knightswood Primary was one of the schools selected to run the pilot scheme and hope that the initiative proves successful in encouraging safer driving in and around the school zone."

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