Road Safety School Learning Doesn't Just Begin Inside The Classroom
By Noel Gibbons
11, Aug 2016 - 07:53
Although the summer is far from over, summer holidays for most students across the country are now coming to an end. As we all know, the school year comes with a substantial increase in morning and evening traffic. As parents prepare for the school run they are being asked to consider when dropping off and fetching their kids to park with consideration of others as road rage can ignite on clogged streets and to put courtesy on the back to school shopping list - school learning doesn't just begin inside the classroom. Parents are reminded not to add to the back to school costs by receiving a parking fine for dangerous parking.
Some fed-up parents have exposed some of the worst schools for parking woes, with selfish and reckless drivers being named and shamed on social media.
One school principal speaking before the reopening of schools, revealed it is not the first time road safety concerns have been raised at the return to school period. He said: "The first few weeks when students return to school is like going into the battlefield trying to get parents to adhere to school parking policies. The appalling and dangerous parking that we see on a regular basis outside of schools is putting young lives at risk but there can be no doubt that the selfish and thoughtless parking needs to come to an end."
"I would suggest that rather than dealing with these issues on a one-to-one basis, which may become very heated, we instead come together as a community and seek a collective way forward, getting parents to understand School Run Etiquette - do unto others as you would have them do to you."
Some principals say moves to roll out "walking buses" in a bid to address car chaos had been hampered by a failure to attract enough volunteers, which results in more parents driving their children directly to the front gate.
One school parent, who lives on a side street, said cars were frequently double-parked outside her house and even blocking her driveway.
"I tapped on the window of one woman's car blocking the exit from my own driveway," she said.
"The woman replied, 'I'll be back in a few minutes, I have to drop my son'."
In 2015, three children aged 15 and younger were killed on our roads. This was a significant reduction compared to 2014 when 15 children were killed.
And it's not a new phenomenon. The idea that generally decent people become full of anger and rage when they hop into a car has been with us since the advent of cars themselves. Remember the 1950 Disney cartoon, "Motor Mania!", starring Goofy. At first a mild-mannered everyman, he turns into a monster the moment he gets behind the wheel.
Also abuse directed at school wardens must stop, road safety officers have warned. Mums and dads who park on footpaths, across driveways and even in the middle of congested streets when collecting and dropping off children are causing angry residents to fight back and are endangering students lives.
There are other reports that some motorists ignore the so-called lollipop person, and even drive by pretending not to see the warden in the middle of the road.
As students return to school after the summer break, concerns have been raised that the unsung heroes and schoolchildren they protect have become new targets of road rage.
For generations, lollipop men and women have shepherded schoolchildren safely across roads armed only with their trusty signs.
Local authorities are promoting The Stop Means Stop campaign, to reminds drivers that they are required by law to stop for school crossing patrols, information leaflets have been produced and will be distributed in schools.
Road safety officials receive concerns expressed on a regular basis from their staff that motorists are taking out their frustration at congested school drop off areas on the school lollipop wardens, with potentially fatal consequences.
Motorists' offences include driving around a school warden when they are on the road; revving engines or sounding horns while the warden and children were crossing; driving very close to the warden; and swearing and using threatening language.
Noel Gibbons Road safety Officer in Mayo County Council said despite years of campaigns and requests for parents to behave responsibly, a small selfish minority are continuing to engage in increasingly dangerous parking practices which put the lives of children at risk on a daily basis.
Wardens, like gardai, have the legal power to stop traffic, and drivers who fail to stop for lollipop men and women could face a €120 fine, four penalty points and disqualification.
Cyclists are also reminded that they must stop also when requested by a warden and under new laws introduced recently, cyclists failing to stop for a school warden are subject to a €40 fine.
Mr Gibbons said: "They should be able to do this without fear of intimidation and threatening behaviour from inconsiderate motorists
Many drivers are blatantly ignoring the 'Stop' sign because they are frustrated over traffic hold-ups. They are now taking it out on the school wardens. This is very dangerous and a big problem," Mr Gibbons in a situation he described as a type of "lollipop bashing."
It was very worrying if drivers adopted an aggressive approach to the 400 wardens nationwide, he said.
The following advice to keep pedestrians and motorists safe:
Reminders for motorists:
Please allow an extra 10 or 15 minutes for your morning commute. The extra time will not only reduce stress but help keep our roads safer. Drivers are less likely to speed or engage in other dangerous driving habits when they aren't running late.
Slow down - watch for children walking in the road, especially if there are no pavements.
Watch for children playing and gathering near bus stops and be alert - children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic. Follow the directions of School wardens.
Reminders for pedestrians and cyclists:
If you are moving up to a new school then plan your journey and allow yourself plenty of time.
Take time to check out the route that you will be taking to school including any potential hazard points along the way. Make sure you wear bright clothing, and preferably reflective or fluorescent items.
Now is a good time for cyclists to make sure your bicycle is in good working order, and wearing an approved cycle helmet is recommended.
Pupils using a school bus should always:
Arrive at the bus stop five minutes early.
Stay well clear of other traffic while the bus is moving off.
Wait until the bus moves off and the road is clear in both directions before crossing.