Donegal Road Safety Officer, Brian O'Donnell
The Donegal Road Safety Working Group is reminding motorists, cyclists and children to take extra care on our roads around the County as schools return once again after the summer holidays.
Brian O’Donnell, Road Safety Officer said: “As schools reopen across the county, it is important to remember that traffic will increase, buses will be picking up and leaving off children, children will be walking and cycling to and from school, and parents will be driving their children to school before heading to work.
There will also be large numbers of little children attending school for the first time so let's ensure this is a positive experience for them by slowing down and taking extra care whenever you are travelling near or past a school. It is never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when children are on our roads.
School traffic wardens, who are employed by local authorities, are tasked with ensuring that schoolchildren are safely able to cross public roads when coming to and from school.
Brian O’Donnell, Road Safety Officer also stated: “School wardens have a vital role to play and many drivers ignore a warden’s Stop sign despite a legal obligation to stop their vehicle. We are very thankful to the majority of drivers who do stop when requested, but there are still large numbers of drivers who seem to think they have a right to speed up when approaching a crossing. Nothing excuses or justifies putting the lives of children in danger or the safety of other road users, especially if they are negotiating their journey at a pace that suits, and is safe for them. We cannot tolerate any incidents of aggression and intimidation on the roads, especially towards school wardens, when the warden is simply trying to do their job.”
Dangerous parking around schools is also contributing to the problem so we are appealing to motorists to help schools by driving with proper care and attention and parking well away from no parking areas around schools. Motorists should first and foremost take responsibility for their own actions.
Parents and teachers can also help prepare children for the journey to and from school by discussing the importance of being safe on the roads. Parents and guardians are being asked to make a real effort to demonstrate good road safety behaviour at all times as your child learns from your example. So if your child walks or cycles to school, you are advised to take them on the route in advance and make sure they know where they are going. If they travel by car or bus, make sure they know how important it is to keep their seatbelt on at all times and remain seated until the vehicle is parked safely at their drop off point.
Reduce distractions in your car so you can concentrate on the road and pedestrians.
Remember to be especially careful in around schools and other areas where children are being picked up and dropped off.
Slow down when passing a stationary school bus when it is dropping off or picking up children.
Be a good role model. Set a good example by always wearing your seatbelt, also ensuring that all passengers are as well and always putting your phone, headphones and devices down when driving.
Not only are children at risk in vehicles or on bicycles, they are highly vulnerable as pedestrians.
Teach children at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the road. Then remind them to continue looking until safely across.
Teach children to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the road. It is particularly important to reinforce this message with teenagers.
It’s always best to walk on footpaths and cross at a safe location, using pedestrian crossings when available.
Children under 10 need to cross the road with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until they are at least aged 10.
We would once again ask schools and teachers to help make road safety a priority this year by making road safety a key part of their lesson plans and consider including a road safety lesson from the RSA's road safety resources in their classes, copies of the resources can be obtained by contacting Donegal County Council's Road Safety Officer or the Road Safety Authority directly. The RSA’s Nationwide Road Safety Education Service is available to visit schools to give a comprehensive road safety presentation to students which can be tailored to suit all class sizes, groups and ages. They address a range of topics on road safety including road safety at school, pedestrian and cycle safety, urban and rural transport issues, learning to drive and killer behaviours. This service is free of charge.