STUDENTS and parents are being reminded again this week of the importance of road safety around school buses and particularly wearing seat belts on school buses in a major campaign by the Mayo Road Safety Working Group to coincide with the start of the new school year.
Mayo County Council Road Safety Officer, Noel Gibbons said students and parents need to be reminded of the importance of wearing a seat belt on the journey to and from school.
"Whether it's in a car or school bus it's equally important, put simply, seatbelts save lives. Putting a safe routine in practice from day one will make it easier to follow and allow it to become habit forming for your child."
According to Mr. Gibbons, research by the Road Safety Authority in 2009 into seatbelt wearing rates on the school journey by private cars suggested huge room for improvement. Compliance with the seat belt legislation for primary school children was 80% in the back seat and this rose slightly for secondary school students to 83%. The survey also revealed School children are more likely to buckle up if they are in the front seat, so it needs to be highlighted, front or back you need to buckle up. In another recent report by the RSA it was highlighted that 252 children were killed and 1,059 were seriously injured on Irish roads between 1997 and 2010.
The Road Safety Officer also expressed concern about the safety of students getting on and off school buses, so the road safety department produced a information leaflet that is being sent to all Schools and vehicle test centres where they can be put on buses.
The Road Safety officer said that increased levels of traffic can be expected over the next few weeks, as we all get back to our normal routine, adding that this marked increases in car, bus, cyclist and pedestrian traffic particularly during the morning rush hour can be particularly hazardous.
Advice from the Road Safety Officer includes leaving plenty time for your journey, ensuring all passengers are wearing a seat belt and taking care when stopping outside of the school gate.
Garda Sergeant Donie Duignan of the Mayo division of the Traffic Corps based in Castlebar said ‘'Schoolchildren are more at risk getting on and off a school bus than travelling on it. We are reminding motorists when you see a School bus there will be children getting on or off so slow down and take care. Otherwise a child's life could be gone in a blink.''
10 COMMANDMENTS OF BUS SAFETY
1. Wait for the bus to stop completely before approaching the bus and stand clear of the door while it is opening.
2. Be courteous to the driver - they have a very responsible job to get you to your destination.
3. Go to your seat and put on your seat belt properly.
4. Be mannerly - do not distract the driver by moving around, shouting, or throwing items around.
5. When approaching your stop stay in your seat with your seatbelt securely fastened until the bus comes to a complete stop. If you are standing in the aisle when the bus driver brakes, there is nothing there to stop you moving forward and hitting the windscreen.
6. If you drop something when getting off the bus, do not pick it up until you tell the driver - he might not see you and drive away.
7. Stand clear from the bus doors and make sure all your clothing is free from the bus doors before they close.
8. When you are getting off the bus, look left in case there is a cyclist approaching on the kerb side of the bus.
9. Leaving the bus make sure to bring all your belongings with you.
10. Wait for the bus to move away before crossing the road. Do not cross in front or behind the bus to allow a clear view for yourself and for other drivers to see you.