With schools reopening around the country for the start of a new school year, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) is asking parents, teachers and children to make every effort to ensure this school year is a safe one. Despite a reduction in child road fatalities in recent years, research from the RSA has revealed that 262 young lives were lost between 1997 and 2012. A further 1,107 were seriously injured. So far this year, four young lives have been lost.
The RSA’s ‘Child Casualties Report 1997 to 2012’ showed that there was an 89% reduction in the number of children (aged 0-14 years) killed and a 52% reduction in the number of children injured on our roads between 1997 and 2012. The report showed that 43% of children killed during this period were pedestrians, and 42% of children killed and seriously injured were car passengers. Of the child passengers killed, 30% were not using a seatbelt or child restraint. The report also found that children are most at risk of being killed on the roads between 4:00pm and 5:59pm, the time when they may be travelling home from school.
The RSA is asking parents to ensure their child is kitted out with the necessary road safety gear, such as a bicycle helmet, working lights on their bicycle and a high vis vest or jacket. Younger children should always be accompanied by a responsible adult so that they can learn by example how to use the road safely. When travelling by car or bus, children should always be restrained in the appropriate child restraint. For older children who may walk or cycle to school, it is important that they learn how to share the road safely with other road-users, for example, how to use hand signals to indicate a manoeuvre and always obeying the Rules of the Road.
Mr Noel Brett, Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority thanked parents and teachers for their commitment to educating our youngest road-users about road safety, saying: “Last week, teachers, parents, young adults and children gathered together for the start of a new school year. And in the excitement of learning new things and making new friends, we would urge parents and teachers to continue to prioritise teaching our youngest and most vulnerable road-users how to stay safe on the roads. As parents and educators, we have a responsibility to teach our children how to be safe when walking, cycling, getting the bus or being driven to school.”
The RSA is also urging parents to be careful when dropping their children off at school. Many schools can’t cater for high volumes of traffic and with hundreds of children walking through the school gates every morning, it can be quite dangerous. Many schools now have designated drop off points for children, so the RSA is asking parents to abide by these and to minimise any traffic build up outside of the school. Pay particular attention not to obstruct school bus drop off points and be vigilant when buses are dropping off or picking up children.
“There are many fun, interactive road safety resources available for use at home and in school, including our ‘Back to School’ pack which will be delivered to schools in the coming weeks. These resources can help children and young people to understand the importance of road safety at a young age and develop lifelong skills to keep them safe on the roads,” said Mr Brett.
The ‘Back to School’ Pack for Primary Schools, delivery of which will start in October, contains:
* A high visibility vest for every child starting school in partnership with Electric Ireland which will be delivered in October to coincide with the clocks going back;
* ‘Going to School’ leaflets for junior infants entering education. This is a parent’s guide to getting children to school safely;
* A ‘Safe Cross Code’ promotional pack including a CD of the song and a poster with the words of the ‘Safe Cross Code’ song and dance to be taught in the classroom;
* The ‘Educational News’ newsletter;
The RSA also has a number of other road safety resources for teachers and students including the ‘Safe Cross Code’, ‘Street Smart’, ‘Be Safe’, ‘Let’s Go’, ‘Seatbelt Sheriff’ and ‘Hi Glo Silver’ for primary level, all of which teach young road users how to use the roads safely. At secondary level, there is the Junior Cycle resource entitled ‘Streetwise’ as well as ‘Your Road to Safety’ for Transition Year. The ‘Let’s Go’ CD, which is a road safety resource for principals and teachers, will be delivered to every secondary school over the coming weeks.
For further road safety information for parents, teachers and students, visit www.rsa.ie