MOTORISTS driving through a West Cork village which was recently resurfaced are treating it as a high-speed highway, concerned parents have warned.
Drivers passing through Leap outside Skibbereen on the N71 are travelling at ‘alarming speeds’ and it’s only a matter of time before there’s a fatal accident, locals have told The Southern Star.
They say they’ve seen one ‘close call’ too many, and are now demanding action from the Council, and from drivers themselves who are ignoring the 50-60kph speed limits.
While they say the problem isn’t entirely as a result of the multi-million euro resurfacing works which were recently completed, they feel it has been worsened by it.
The most concerning troublespot is at the pedestrian crossing by the national school – where Leap and Glandore playschool is also based – near the church and playground.
School principal Mary Crowley said they were so concerned about the potential for an accident that earlier this year they changed their procedure for the collection of students.
‘Up until the beginning of this year, our teachers walked their students to the school gate. But now the onus is on parents to collect at the school door because we witnessed too many close calls where, children being children, will start to run when they see their parent.’
Tim O’Mahony, chair of Leap and Glandore playschool, which is located in the primary school, described the newly resurfaced road as a ‘highway’ and said something like colourful road markings would help alert drivers to what is a very busy stretch of road.
Tragically, a child was killed in a road accident near the playground around 20 years ago. Mary, who has been principal since 2009, said the issue has been raised over the years at board of management level by concerned parents and it’s very much back on the agenda.
Among the large number of concerned parents is Olivia Scarlett who lives in the village, and who has three children attending the school.
‘It was a problem anyway, but it’s like a runway through the village now, as the road is so good. There’s also the problem that people just don’t seem to notice the crossing by the playground and fly past it. Lots of children depend on that crossing to get across the road. We have to act now before it’s too late.
‘We want to raise awareness about poor driver behaviour and are taking up a petition for something to be done by the Council.’
Caoimhe O’Brien, a six-year-old pupil in the school, feels so strongly about the situation that she wrote to The Southern Star appealing for drivers to reduce their speed.
“I want ask everyone driving through Leap village to driver slower so my friends and I can feel safe going to school, to the playground, to the shop, and to mass. PLEASE PLEASE SLOW DOWN,’ she wrote.
The community is hoping for vehicle-activated signs that show drivers their speed as pass, similar to ones in Coppeen and Dunmanway. However, they cost about €3,400 each.
Mary said that any traffic measures would benefit not only the school but the wider community.
‘All it takes is one split second for an accident to happen,’ she said.
Chair of Leap Community association and proprietor of the Harbour Bar James Ronan said he had even seen drivers overtaking by the school.
FF Cllr Joe Carroll said the road is under the authority of Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) so he will call on the Council to make the case with TII to install the electronic signs.