'Urgent need' for 20mph speed limit outside Exmouth's Deaf Academy

Students at the Deaf Academy are campaigning for safer streets

Students at the Deaf Academy are campaigning for safer streets - Credit: Deaf Academy

Calls have been made to urgently introduce a 20mph speed limit and a zebra crossing outside the new home of the Deaf Academy in Exmouth.

The Deaf Academy has been providing education and support for deaf young people in Devon since 1826, and in September 2020, they relocated from Exeter to Exmouth to a new campus at the old Rolle College Site at Douglas Avenue.

Last term, their Student Council started a campaign to reduce the speed limit as unlike hearing children, deaf children cannot clearly identify cars in the distance or around corners through sound and only rely on sight and trusting the public are driving slowly in the area.

Last Thursday’s full Devon County Council meeting heard that 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.

The meeting was told that other schools in Exmouth have 20 mph speed limits outside their entrances, and that the current speed limit on Douglas Avenue poses a risk to students, staff and visitors, by councillor Alistair Dewhirst, putting forward a motion calling for changes.


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Cllr Dewhirst said that he was extremely concerned by the current situation and that it posed a risk to everyone at the school.

His motion, which as per the procedure of the council was referred to the Cabinet for consideration, before returning to full council later in the year, called on Devon County Council to applaud the Deaf Academy Student Council campaign to reduce the speed of traffic in Douglas Avenue.

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It also called on Highway Officers to urgently introduce a 20mph speed limit in Douglas Avenue and to install a zebra crossing outside the school to ensure that these children and young people can cross the road in safety.

Amy, secretary of the student council, had previously 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.

“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 to drive 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.

She added: “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 this 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.”

As a second part of Cllr Dewhirst’s motion, he also called on Highway Officers to bring a report to the council before the end of 2021 on implementing 20 mph speed limits in the vicinity of all schools in Devon to ensure that all children and young people can arrive and leave their schools in greater safety.

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