TRAFFIC calming measures are being called for outside a Lifford school in a bid to curb speeding drivers.
Work was recently carried out to improve the road surface between Murlog National School and Murlog Chapel and the speed limit reduced from 80kph to 60kph. But it has done little to put the brakes on drivers hitting the accelerator as they drive through the built up area.
Hundreds of children disembark at the school each day while Mass-goers regularly gather on the opposite side of the road for funerals and other church services.
Last year children narrowly avoided serious injury when a car that had stopped to let them across was rear-ended by another vehicle.
Principal of Murlog NS, Irene Campbell, said the situation was a tragedy waiting to happen.
“It’s very dangerous because this is a busy central point for the community here. The safety of the whole school community is being put at risk because cars come speeding around the corner and at times actually increase their speed at the corner for some reason.
“They overtake at the school entrance, they ignore the continuous white line and they ignore school lights. There are 200 children being collected here everyday and it is extremely dangerous.
“There was an incident last year when children were crossing to the church and kind parents stopped to allow us to cross. Meanwhile a car came flying around the corner and into the back of them. We were very lucky and it was a very frightening day for all of us.
“It is the speed and the overtaking that are our big concerns and the fact that there are no speed checks being carried out,” said the school principal.
Parish Priest of Murlog, Fr Edward Kilpatrick, said the problem was that the junction was the last possible overtaking point for two or three kilometres in the direction of Raphoe.
Fr Kilpatrick said the introduction of speed ramps or a traffic island could be the solution to the ongoing issues.
“The next place they can pass after here is at Lurganshannagh which is two or three kilometres up the road,” said the parish priest. “So you have cars passing here when the church is busy and when the school is busy.
“The only bit of employment we have in this area is the mill with the big lorries, the big six and eight wheelers. Those drivers are not the problem, they are very courteous, responsible and they drive well, but cars will pass the big lorries and that is where the danger arises.”
Councillor Gerry Crawford said he had raised the issue of speeding previously with Donegal County Council. He said a physical deterrent was needed to slow drivers down.
“We have had a reduction in speed, we have three sets of school warning signs, we have ‘slow’ markings and zig zag markings on the road and all this has been done recently in an effort to improve the safety here,” said Cllr Crawford.
“But what is lacking is the observance of the rules and we need change in attitude from the people who drive by the school and an awareness of the amount of business that goes on here on a daily basis.
“We just need people who use the road to observe the safety measures that already exist and be aware of the dangers they are creating for others.
“We also need council to take a step further and introduce something that will physically prevent overtaking at this location.”
A spokesperson for Donegal County Council said there were no immediate plans for further traffic calming measures at Murlog but said they would continue to monitor speed in the area.
“A County wide speed limit review has been finalised,” they said.
“Speed limit signs are being amended around the county at present. As a result of the review the speed limit at Murlog school has been reduced from 80kph to 60kph. Following the installation of a water main and renewal of road surface at Murlog, traffic calming road markings were placed on the approach to the school in November. The Council will continue to review speeds at this location.”