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French town installs ‘shock’ school warning road signs

A French town in the Saône-et-Loire (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté) has installed “shock sign” speed reminders on one of its most dangerous roads, in a bid to encourage drivers to slow down and pay attention.

The initiative in Lugny comes from mayor Guy Galéa, who has authorised signs with shock, tongue-in-cheek messages inviting drivers to “Accelerate, we still have some children left [to hit/kill]!”.

So far, two signs have been installed on Rue de la Folie, a street that passes by a primary school, a collège (middle school), and the school canteen; and is used by an estimated 700 students every day.

The mayor is hoping that the “shock tactic” messages will alert drivers to the potential consequences of not slowing down on this section of road, and will be more effective than normal speed limit signs.

The signs are the latest measure introduced on this particular road, which has also seen €300,000 worth of changes in recent months, in an attempt to make it safer.

This has included setting the speed limit to 30 kph, installing more pavements, and more pedestrian crossings.

Yet, the mayor has said that drivers still do not respect the rules - hence the need for the unusual signs.

He said: “Despite the signs, we have noticed that even the buses, and other road users, do not respect the speed limit. Vehicles go rather quickly in front of the school. We do not have a barrier in front of the school, and you have to take care. There are students who cross by themselves.”

Mr Galéa said that he was inspired to install the signs after being inspired by disabled parking warnings that say: “If you want my [parking] space, take my handicap”.

The mayor added: “Even if people only slow down to read the signs, we have already won. At least people are slowing down.”

While the overall effectiveness of the measure has yet to be seen, local people appeared to be welcoming the shock tactics.

One parent of a school pupil said: “I found the message simultaneously shocking and funny. It is good to shake people up a bit.”

A local driver was also a fan, saying: “I think it is good to make people react. They are so used to normal signposts that they no longer pay attention.”

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