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Back to School – Reminder for motorists and all road users

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WITH the new school year beginning this week motorists are being urged to take extra care when driving near schools around the county.

Donegal County Council and the Donegal Road Safety Working Group’s Road Safety campaign, seeks to remind all motorists to put child safety first when driving during the school morning and afternoon rush hour, and remind people that Road Safety is everyone’s responsibility.

In 2013, six children lost their lives across the country. So far in 2014 the number of child casualties is thirteen, already exceeding the total number of child deaths in 2013.

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“The first week of school is always a very busy time on our roads and I encourage all road users to be mindful that children will again be back making this daily journey,” Brian O’Donnell, Road Safety Officer said. “Children will be walking, cycling, travelling on buses and being dropped off and picked up in cars, so motorists need to be alert to their safety and exercise the utmost caution.

“We also need to be mindful that there will be large numbers of children attending school for the first time,” he added. “Let’s ensure this is a positive experience for them by slowing down and taking extra care whenever we are travelling near or past a school. Slowing down around schools is vitally important no matter how much of a rush you may be in. All road users must obey speed limits, be patient, and make sure they park safely and legally when dropping off and collecting their children, and motorists are also asked to be extra careful when overtaking parked school buses.”

The school warden service caters for a large number of children attending schools in the county on a daily basis during school terms and is delivered at a number of schools throughout the County. The wardens are identifiable by the high visibility uniforms worn, and the STOP sign used to stop traffic. In order to carry out their duties effectively they require the co-operation of all road users.

Parents and guardians are being asked to make a real effort to demonstrate good road safety behaviour at all times as your child learns from your example. If your child walks or cycles to school, you are advised to take them on the route in advance and make sure they know where they are going. If they travel by car or bus, make sure they know how important it is to keep their seatbelt on at all times and remain seated until the vehicle is parked safely at the drop off point. Parents should be made aware of the need for appropriate and considerate parking in as many ways as possible. Information should be on the school’s website, in the school’s information book and in communications with new parents. The message is clear – make smart choices about how you use the roads: never ever drink or drug drive, strictly keep to the speed limits and reduce your speed, make sure you and your passengers are wearing seatbelts before you set off on a journey, no matter how short and never use your mobile phone for any purpose while driving.
Children learn about Road Safety by watching others. Make sure you always set a good example.

I would also ask schools and teachers to help make Road Safety a priority this year by making Road Safety a key part of their lesson plans: “We would ask teachers to consider including a Road Safety lesson from the RSA’s Road Safety resources in their classes. The RSA has set up a nationwide Road Safety Education Service. A Road Safety Education Officer is available to travel to your school and deliver effective programmes to everyone, which tackle all elements of Road Safety. A member of the RSA team will highlight the importance of understanding Road Safety through a series of interactive resources tailored in an age appropriate way”. This service is free of charge. The saying is true “our children are our future”, and we all need to educate them on Road Safety. 

Copies of the resources or the service of the Road Safety Education Officer can be obtained by contacting the Road Safety Authority directly or Donegal County Council’s Road Safety Section, who will gladly assist with the request.

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