Students at the Deaf Academy are leading a campaign to reduce the speed limit outside their new campus in Exmouth.
The current limit along Douglas Avenue in Exmouth is 30 miles per hour. But the Academy’s student council says that is too fast and are calling for it to be reduced to 20 miles per hour in their campaign – 20 is Plenty.
The Academy, which provides education and support for deaf young people, relocated from Exeter to its new campus at the old Rolle College site in Exmouth last year. There are currently 50 students at the Academy, 30 of whom stay within the residential provision on campus. Students attend from all over the country, with varying needs ranging from mobility, visual and special educational needs.
Amy, secretary of the student council, said: “We are an active and passionate student council that cares about all the students in the Academy. Last term we agreed we would like to have a focused campaign to reduce the speed limit on Douglas Avenue, so it is more suitable and safer for all day and residential students.”
The majority of students at the Academy have a physical disability or special educational need, alongside their deafness. Around 16% of these students have multi-sensory impairments (MSI). MSI affects a person’s mobility, sight, hearing and information processing. Children and young people with MSI take longer to process information and do not see or hear cars as clearly as hearing children.
Amy added: “Unlike hearing children, deaf children cannot clearly identify cars in the distance or around corners through sound. We rely on sight and trusting the public are driving slowly in the area. Clear 20mph signs will ensure drivers are aware of our school and our students’ needs. It will help us feel safe in Exmouth.
“It’s important because if cars are going fast, I don’t have time to cross the road safely, which can cause accidents. I have found in the past when crossing a road near my house, it can feel like cars come out of nowhere. As a Deaf person I can’t hear cars around the corner or far away so it can be difficult to judge how safe the road is. I would like to see zebra crossings and a 20-mph road limit with clear signs to make Douglas Avenue a safer environment.”
Douglas Avenue currently has a 30mph speed limit with various blind spots and does not have any targeted highway signage, traffic calming measures or crossing points near the Academy.
Assistant principal of care at the Academy, James Heaver said: “The Douglas Avenue speed limit needs to be adjusted to reflect how the avenue is utilised now. We would like to ensure our road is in conjunction with the safety standards of other roads with schools.
“We have been working with our local partners to address this issue of traffic calming on Douglas Avenue and recognise that this is a slow process. Recent support from Cllr Christine Channon came in the form of funding the school signs outside the Academy on Douglas Avenue and Salterton Road. We fully support the student council campaign and acknowledge how strongly they feel about reducing the speed limit and introducing safe crossing points on the avenue.”
According to ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), there are many benefits to a reduced speed limit: “As well as road safety benefits, it is important to highlight the contribution that 20mph zones can have in improving air quality, reducing noise pollution and encouraging more physical activity, such as walking and cycling, by contributing towards a safer environment. The money spent on the schemes can also greatly improve the residential area.”