Fear for child safety due to high speeds outside small school
Children at a small rural school have to dodge speeding traffic to get to class each day, with parents warning there have already been a number of near misses.
An extra 1,000 cars a day are passing by the front gate of Milltown NS in Co Galway since the opening of the M17-M18 motorway last year as motorists use the N17 to get to the new route.
The road has a 100kmh speed limit and the stretch in front of the school is often used for overtaking.
A number of accidents within metres of the school gate in recent weeks has exacerbated fears.
At a meeting in the village of Milltown this week, parents said they were too afraid to let their children walk or cycle to school.
Tara Turpen, who has two children attending the 100-pupil school, said: "Ever since the motorway opened it's even harder for locals living here to get out on to the road. The children aren't allowed play at the front of the school any more.
"You can't even walk or cycle with the children to school, it's too dangerous."
Another parent Jean Barrett, who also has two children at the school, said: "There's no space to pull in.
"People are having to run across the road and there have been times when cars brake; there have been a lot of near misses."
School principal Tom Casby said: "The safety of our children is and must be our most important concern."
Cathal McHugh, safety officer on the school's board of management, told how, between 8am and 9am, traffic volumes had increased 20pc outside the school.
On one morning last week a vehicle passed the school every four seconds.
Speed data found that one in five cars travel over the speed limit which is a "lethal combination", he added.
Parents and children protested outside the school yesterday urging motorists to slow down.