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Spy car on patrol in Sunderland to catch parents putting children’s lives at risk

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HUNDREDS of parents putting children’s lives at risk have been hit with fines after ignoring pleas to park safely.

Tickets handed out to irresponsible mums and dads have increased more than 16 times across Sunderland during the past year as efforts are made to crack down on the dangerous practice.

But while the statistics show a dramatic increase in parking tickets outside of schools, some headteachers say the problem remains a major concern.

Figures obtained by the Echo show 349 tickets were handed out to parents caught parking on zig-zag lines outside city schools last year – up from just 20 in 2012.

A year ago, Sunderland City Council launched their “spy car” to catch out motorists who flouted rules by parking on the lines at dropping off and picking up times.

The marked Nissan Leaf has since been patrolling roads outside some of the worst hit schools.

Fitted with a telescopic camera, the car has recorded extensive footage of the hazards caused by illegal parking.

Five schools were initially identified as having the worst parking problems in the city.

These were Fulwell Infants; Seaburn Dene Primary; Monkwearmouth; Barnes Infant and Junior; and Dubmire Primary schools.

Hilary Cooper, headteacher at Barnes Junior School, said that despite the fines, she had noticed no difference in parents’ attitude to parking outside the school.

She said: “The school is essentially an island surrounded by four roads.

“Unfortunately, parents’ parking continues to be a problem at both the beginning and the end of the school day, while parents continue to express their concerns about the safety of their children.

“Between the junior, infants and nursery school here, we have about 660 children going in and coming out, so this is a big issue for us.”

Ms Cooper said the school has tried to address the issue with parents with limited success.

She added: “It may be these fines have had some impact; I don’t know the ins and outs of who has been fined, but certainly some parents are still not parking responsibly outside of here.”

According to a new survey from Axa car insurance, more than a third – 35 per cent – of parents who drive their children to school think it is acceptable to stop or park on school safety zig-zag lines, with a quarter – 27 per cent – admitting to doing so.

The Spy Car was launched in Sunderland as part of the Go Smarter To School campaign by the Department for Transport, supported by the council’s 3Es road safety and parking awareness campaign – Education, Enforcement, Engineering – which aims to improve pedestrian safety.

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