Covid-crazed drivers putting kids in danger

Motorists letting off steam as a way of coping with the Covid-19 pandemic are putting the lives of schoolchildren in Hawick at risk, a worried grandfather has warned.

By Paul Kelly
Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 10:52 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 11:12 am
Councillor Davie Paterson outside of Drumlanrig St Cuthbert's Primary School in Hawick.
Councillor Davie Paterson outside of Drumlanrig St Cuthbert's Primary School in Hawick.

Fears have been expressed that youngsters are being endangered by motorists and bikers travelling way in excess of the speed limit around Drumlanrig Square and Loan.

There have been several near-misses and minor accidents involving children but fortunately no-one has yet been seriously injured.

That’s only due to good fortune, according to Tommy Beattie, who lives in nearby Drumlanrig Court and who has two grandsons at Drumlanrig St Cuthbert’s Primary School.

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The speed limit outside the school is 20mph and 30mph along the rest of the stretch of road.

But Tommy, 66, says he has seen vehicles travelling as fast as 60mph.

His concerns have deepened in recent months because he believes motorists are stepping on the gas as a response to Covid-19 restrictions.

Tommy recently called on the support of Hawick and Denholm ward councillor Davie Paterson and the council has now pledged to incorporate Drumlanrig Square and Loan into a 20mph speed trial to be rolled out later this year. In addition, the council’s road safety team is looking at other specific measures to slow vehicles down at this location and assist pedestrians to cross the road safely.

Those measures are welcomed by Tommy, although he still feels that more physical measures are needed, such as the introduction of ‘sleeping policemen’ and road bumps, to prevent a tragedy.

He said: “You have Drumlanrig School, which also operates as a kind of playground because it’s left open. You have got the Moat Park and you have a lot of bairns on the pavement crossing and there’s nothing, not a Pelican Crossing, just the school crossing at school opening and closing times and they’re kind of left to their own devices.

“Some of the speeds are absolutely horrendous, 50/60 miles per hour. It’s just good fortune that there has not been a serious accident or fatality. Heaven forbid that is what it is going to take until action is taken. Something needs done both ways because they speed up and down. Something to slow them down, whether that is a sleeping policeman or a little island in the middle of the road.

“It has definitely got worse during the pandemic. I have noticed it getting worse in the last few months. I think it’s just that sort of attitude that people think ‘I’m oot now I have a wee bit freedom’ and then they put their foot on the gas. If you hit a bairn or 20 or 30mph they have a chance, at 50 or 60mph they don’t have a chance.”

Councillor Paterson said: “There has been several minor accidents over the years on this stretch of road but folk are asking the question does it have to take a child to get killed before action is taken to slow the cars down. I am pleased the council is taking action and we need to hear what residents think and want done.”