As the final preparations for a new school term begin in homes and schools around the country, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) is calling on parents, guardians and teachers to make sure road safety is top of the ‘back to school’ checklist. In particular, the RSA is reminding parents to ensure their child is visible when walking or cycling on the roads, or when waiting for the school bus.
For the sixth year running, the RSA and ESB Networks will distribute free high visibility vests to every child starting school in September. To date, this partnership has provided 700,000 children throughout the country with high visibility vests.
Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said: “As parents and guardians, we have a responsibility to ensure our youngest and most vulnerable road-users are safe when travelling to and from school. One of the easiest ways to do this is to ensure they wear high visibility material when walking, cycling or getting the bus to school. This will help other road-users to see them and to slow down when they are nearby. Motorists should also be on the look-out for children making their journey to school and to modify their behaviour accordingly.”
“If your child gets the bus to school, please make sure they wear reflective clothing so they can be seen at the bus stop. Don’t leave them standing on the side of the road in the dark to wait for a bus. Make sure they know that when they’re on the bus, they should wear their seatbelt at all times and never stand while the bus is moving.”
The RSA has the following ‘Back to School’ tips and advice:
• Research shows that children under 12 should be accompanied if walking or cycling to school as they don’t have the necessary skills or experience to manage traffic or cross the roads safely. So make sure your child is accompanied by a responsible adult until they’re old enough to go on their own.
• If your child travels to school by bus or car, make sure they use the correct restraint at all times, for example, a child car seat, booster cushion or safety belt.
• Show them the correct way to get on and off the bus, in particular, where they should stand to safely wait for its arrival and before crossing the road.
• If your child walks or cycles to school, make sure they are wearing the proper safety and high visibility gear – a helmet and high vis if they cycle, and a high vis vest or armband if they walk. Make sure their bicycle has working lights, both front and rear, and a bell.
• 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 obey the Rules of the Road.
• Teach your child the ‘Safe Cross Code’ and make it a part of their ‘going to school’ routine.
• Remember, the best person to teach your child how to use the roads safely is you. So set a good example and always demonstrate safe road use when using the roads.
The RSA is also urging schools and parents to take steps to ensure safety when hiring a bus. All bus operators are required by law to ensure their buses are roadworthy and meet a number of requirements including:
• Having appropriate preventative maintenance regimes, daily walk-around vehicle checks and swift repair of defects
• Ensuring their buses are tested on-time, and
• Completing an annual self-declaration in respect of their buses to the Road Safety Authority.
Anyone hiring a bus is encouraged to ask the bus company to complete a Declaration of Compliance (available on www.cvrt.ie) which contains a checklist of the key legal minimum requirements. If you have any concerns about the condition of a bus provided, do not use it and contact the RSA directly via firstname.lastname@example.org
Separately the RSA raised a concern about the practice of people under 18 years of age hiring buses to go to events with their peers. “In situations that have been brought to our attention by concerned members of the public, the passengers are completely unsupervised. We want to discourage this as we have reports of high jinks activity, often fuelled by alcohol, no seatbelts worn and engaging in behaviour likely to cause harm or at the very least driver distraction. I would call on coach operators not to take bookings form those who are underage and unsupervised by adults.” said Ms Murdock.
Schools can now register online for the RSA’s ‘Back to School’ road safety packs which will be sent to primary schools throughout the country over the coming months. To register online for your packs, or for further road safety information for parents, teachers and students, visit www.rsa.ie/backtoschool