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Peter Walsh from TITAN (Travel Indepnedence Training Across the Nation) at Norfolk County Council with Ormiston Venture Academy pupils Cara Vicedomini and Lewis Whiley holding a hairdryer used as a fake speedgun to see if it has an effect on drivers on Brasenose Avenue in Gorleston. Picture: James Bass
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Plucky schoolchildren did their best to slow down speeding drivers when they descended on a busy Gorleston road - armed with a hairdryer.
Dressed in their uniforms the students from Ormiston Venture Academy and Great Yarmouth High School thrust the trusty beauty device in the face of motorists, in a bid to lower their speeds by tricking them into thinking they were being clocked by a radar gun.
But their ploy was not a tongue in cheek prank as it formed part of a road safety awareness morning led by Norfolk County Council’s Titan team, which aims to help vulnerable youngsters become safer and more confident when travelling and using public transport.
The pupils also monitored traffic speeds with a real radar gun and attempted to cross busy Brasenose Avenue - a key road on the route to Ormiston Academy - and were shocked by the results they gathered in both exercises.
Peter Walsh, who runs Norfolk’s Titan scheme, said the youngsters were “disgusted” that half of drivers failed to stop for them as they attempted to use the zebra crossing near the Fastolfe Arms pub.
“Two buses and two taxis went straight through when they were trying to cross and I got the fingers thrown up to me,” he added. “At the end of the hour and a half the children were appalled.
“They said at the end the lesson to be learnt was ‘don’t trust motorists’.”
And despite their efforts with the hairdryer Mr Walsh said their ploy failed to have any real effect on drivers - with many being clocked with the real radar gun a few yards away doing 40mph in the residential street.
He added: “When they pointed it at people, very occasionally it worked, but as soon as I stood up with my high-visibility jacket and a hairdryer that worked, because they thought I was the police.
“We’ve had several complaints from the locals who said that this particular zebra crossing is so dangerous. Many came up to us and were very interested in what we were doing, and to tell us how disgusted they were with incidents of people not showing any care for the community.”
Despite students’ shock at drivers’ speed and failure to stop, Mr Walsh said the exercise had taught them one of Titan’s important road safety messages - that of being a safe pedestrian.
“They very much took that on board,” he added.
The results of their speed survey, and feedback from their experience, will now be passed to the police and county council. And more joined up working between the schools is being planned to cover more of the Titan scheme’s travel lessons and tips.