Photo/IllutrationFaint traces of a white line drawn by an elementary school principal can be seen where slope meets a prefectural road near a T-shaped intersection in Fukuoka Prefecture. (Kodai Kinoshita)

  • Photo/Illustraion

The principal of an elementary school in Fukuoka Prefecture painted a mark on a road to stop traffic and ensure the safety of his pupils. Police, however, said he crossed the line.

The principal was fined 40,000 yen ($357) for violating the Road Traffic Law by drawing the white line on a road without permission.

The incident occurred in March 2018 at a T-shaped intersection on a two-lane prefectural road in the central part of the prefecture.

The intersection has traffic signals and a stop line for vehicles in front of a pedestrian crosswalk.

However, pupils use a pathway on a 35-meter-long section of a slope that ends at the prefectural road well before the stop line. The principal was apparently worried that children running down the slope could smash into waiting vehicles.

So he spray-painted a white “stop” line on the prefectural road where the slope ends, about 15 meters before the real stop line. That way, cars waiting at the intersection would not block the pathway on the slope.

“I thought it was dangerous because children descending the slope could run into cars waiting for the traffic light to change,” the principal later told the town’s education board.

But the principal’s well-meaning act prompted somebody to make an emergency call to police in April 2018.

Fukuoka prefectural police in July sent the case to prosecutors as a suspected violation of the Road Traffic Law.

The principal received a summary order to pay a 40,000-yen fine on Aug. 1.

The town’s education board, which said it had previously discussed safety at the intersection with the principal, issued a verbal reprimand to him.

The principal’s line was painted over in red to blend in with the road surface.

Police said the principal’s idea was not only illegal but also ineffective as a safety measure.

“If the stop line is moved and redrawn where the principal suggested, a car coming down the slope from the school to turn left could enter the intersection at a red light,” a prefectural police official said.

The town’s education board said it will give safety guidance to pupils and tell them not to run down the slope.

(This article was written by Kodai Kinoshita and Amane Shimazaki.)