ANTI-ROAD rage lollipop cameras have been welcomed by a heroic school crossing patroller.
Kirklees Council is the first authority in the country to trial cameras mounted on the sticks used by lollipop men and women.
They are designed to film motorists who fail to stop for patrollers or hurl abuse at them.
Raj Kumari, 38 – who has helped pedestrians cross the roads near Spring Grove School for the last seven years – was the first to try one out yesterday.
She has been on the wrong end of road rage and has had several brushes with dangerous drivers.
In one instance she had to push a child out of the path of a speeding lorry.
“He had come into the middle of the road and the lorry was coming up behind me,’’ she said. “I knew it wasn’t going to stop so I had to use my stick to push him out of the way.
“I really enjoy the job, but sometimes it can be difficult because of drivers who don’t stop or shout abuse at you.
“A lot of them are rushing to work and get angry because I will help adults get across the road as well as children.
“I love working with kids and seeing their smiling faces, but it can be very scary at times. I think the cameras are a great idea.”
A prototype of the camera is currently being trialled across Kirklees.
The devices cost £1,000 each.
The initiative follows an estimated 1,400 lollipop rage incidents reported to councils last year.
Cath Bottomley from Kirklees Council’s highways department said: “It’s an extra pair of eyes – like having eyes in the back of your head. It will help an awful lot.
“It’s there to act as a deterrent. We aren’t using it as CCTV to spy on people. The intention is to improve the safety of children and staff.”
She said she hoped it would help the council recruit more patrollers.
She said: “Staffing is a problem up and down the country. But it’s a good job – there’s no age limit. You can be male or female and it keeps you fit and gets you outdoors.”
Lee Fairbrother, product manager for camera design company Routesafe, said Kirklees had been brave in tackling the issue head-on.
He added: “If we can let motorists know there’s a way to stop abusive driving they are less likely to do it.”
David Sparks, chairman of the Local Government Association’s transport board, said: “It’s unbelievable that we have to take this action, but the lives of children are at risk from increasing numbers of drivers who are so selfish that they are willing to put lives at risk by refusing to stop for 30 seconds at a school crossing.
“Councils will do everything in their power to stamp this out. Abuse and intimidation of lollipop men and women who are carrying out a vital service to the community will also not be tolerated.
“Motorists need to be made aware that they are committing a criminal offence and we hope this new technology will prove an effective deterrent.”