For most drivers, one of the biggest fears they face on the road is that they will not only hurt themselves but could potentially hurt someone else as well. Recently, the village of Iver, Buckinghamshire has been utilizing this fear with child bollards as a way to get drivers to slow down near school zones.
The idea for the project stemmed from Luisa Sullivan, Buckinghamshire’s County Councillor, as a more effective, low-maintenance way of traffic control. So far, six of the child-like mannequins have popped up around town, and although though the statues wouldn’t fool anybody up close, they do look somewhat lifelike from a distance. The goal of the program isn’t just to slow down drivers in these specific zones, but also to make drivers think more and heighten their awareness on the road. Despite Sullivan’s enthusiasm for the idea and plans of expansion though, some residents of Iver do not share this same excitement.
Their argument is that not only are the child bollards physically unappealing but that drivers will become used to the bollards and pay even less attention while driving through the school zones. In the worst case scenario, some residents argue that there could be an adverse reaction and distracted drivers could panic and crash instead of just slowing down.
Despite these complaints, Luisa Sullivan isn’t willing to give up on this form of traffic control just yet. In response to this criticism, Sullivan has stated that she feels like these outraged citizens aren’t necessarily angry about the child bollards themselves, but more so the fact that the bollards act as a deterrent for parents who like to mount the curb when dropping off their kids.
Iver isn’t the first town to experiment with child bollards either. In 2009, the town of Leicester implemented these same statues and have since found them successful in slowing down drivers. Not only that, Leicester’s citizens tended to notice a child bollard more than they would a regular bollard and felt that they are more aware when driving around children. Another town, Plymouth, Massachusetts, suggested child bollards in their own school zones back in 2011, but the idea was quickly shot down by parents who felt the statues looked too creepy.
Still, although Iver has dished out £5,395 to pay for this latest method of traffic control, there isn’t much maintenance or upkeep on them. Essentially, all the town has to do is place the statues where they want them, and let the appearance of the bollard do the rest. The only possible concern might be if the bollards became targets of vandalism–which is the argument of some residents–but this has yet to happen.
Overall, whether or not using child bollards is more effective than other forms of traffic control is a question that Iver is still in the process of answering. Despite the backlash she has received, Luisa Sullivan continues to be hopeful that this project will slow down residents and in the long run, heighten their awareness while driving through the school zones and around children in general.