A total of 35 children aged 15 and under have been killed on Irish roads in the five years from 2014-2018. Of these, 18 were passengers and 13 were pedestrians.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA), ESB Networks and An Garda Síochána are appealing to parents, guardians and teachers to ensure road safety is on the back to school lesson plan for all school children. As children return to school it is also important to remind motorists to be mindful of the most vulnerable road-users.
The RSA is reminding parents to ensure their child is visible when walking or cycling to school, or when waiting for the school bus and is restrained correctly in the back of the car.
Speaking at the launch of this year’s back-to-school campaign, Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said: “With children returning to school over the coming days, road users need to be extra vigilant. In addition to the inevitable increased traffic levels, motorists and other road users should be conscious of children walking and cycling to and from school. Drivers need to pay attention to their speed, particularly in urban areas.
“Congestion at the school gates is another particularly serious problem, with parents often double parking, or parking on yellow lines to drop their children off. The result is incredibly dangerous: small children weaving in and out of parked and moving cars at the school gate, many of whom are too small to be seen by drivers pulling in and out. Therefore, we are encouraging parents and teachers to be as proactive as possible when it comes to road safety. Parents can ensure their children are wearing high-visibility vests and when cycling make sure they are wearing a safety helmet and that their bikes should are properly equipped with bell, lights and reflective strips. Teachers can do their bit by educating children in road safety best practice at an early age.”
The RSA is also reminding parents when driving their child to school that it is important to ensure that they are properly secured in the correct seating. They should be secured in the back seat in a restraint appropriate to their individual height and weight. Children under 150cms in height or weighing less than 36 kilograms must use the correct child restraint when travelling in cars. Parents should also be mindful not to park their cars on the footpath while dropping their child to school, as this can obstruct pedestrians and may incur a penalty.
Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau commented: “It’s vital that we do everything we can to protect children on the roads. This includes wearing high visibility material when out walking or cycling, using a seatbelt or appropriate restraint when travelling by car or bus, and using protective equipment such as a helmet. It’s also really important that adults and young adults demonstrate safe behaviour around young people, so if you’re a parent, grandparent, older brother or sister, make sure you set a good example any time you use the road.”
For the ninth 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 880,000 children throughout the country with high visibility vests.
Mark Madigan, Senior Health and Safety Manager, ESB Networks, said: “We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with RSA to ensure that school children are visible on the roads and around school gates. Wearing a high-vis vest is so important whether you are walking, cycling or travelling on the school bus. We encourage all schools to utilise high-visibility materials to ensure children can be safe, by being seen. Our partnership with the RSA reflects ESB Networks’ ongoing commitment to promoting safety. This initiative is part of our wider ‘Stay Safe, Stay Clear’ electrical safety campaign which we are promoting throughout schools in the Republic of Ireland.”