As the schools re-open, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has published new guidelines for schools aimed at helping to improve road safety in and around their grounds and buildings. The publication comes for the start of the new academic year.
The new guidelines provide information and tools to assist schools develop and implement a road safety action plan, that would also reduce the risk of any incidents occurring during the commute to and from school.
Together with An Garda Síochána, the RSA is also appealing to parents, guardians and teachers to ensure road safety is on the back to school checklist. Drivers are being reminded that there will be a significant increase in school-going traffic in the coming days. They should also expect to see a rise in the number of children using ‘active modes’ of transport such as cycling, walking or scooting to get to school.
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Ms. Hildegarde Naughton explained: “I would encourage schools to read the new guidelines from the RSA and develop safety action plans to improve safety around their schools. For example, one of the measures outlined in the guidelines is the Safe Routes to School programme which I launched earlier this year. As we invest almost €1 million per day in walking and cycling projects this year, the Safe Routes to School programme aims to create safer walking and cycling routes, to alleviate congestion at the school gates and increase the number of children walking, cycling, or scooting to school. This is being achieved by providing purpose-built walking and cycling facilities and in certain cases a complete reworking of a school’s entrance. Earlier this summer, 170 schools were notified that they are part of the first round of funding for the new Safe Routes to School programme. Funding for the rolling programme will be provided from the €1.8 billion for walking and cycling infrastructure committed under the programme for government.”
Speaking at the launch of this year’s back-to-school campaign and publication of the RSA’s new guidelines for improving road safety around schools, Ms. Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson, Road Safety Authority said: “Each school faces its own unique road safety issues depending on whether it is an urban or rural school, particularly during school opening and closing times. The mix of road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, vehicles and other road-using public, can lead to an unsafe environment. The RSA’s new guidelines, which have been developed in collaboration with government departments and agencies, will help school management to develop and implement a road safety action plan to reduce the risk of injuries while students and staff are travelling to and from school. It gives valuable advice on identifying the areas of concern around your school environment. It offers suggestions on how best to address these issues, provides examples and tells you where you can get help.”
Assistant Commissioner, Paula Hilman, Roads Policing & Community Engagement, An Garda Síochána added: “We always urge road users to behave responsibly but extra vigilance is required as children return to school. There will be increased traffic volumes on the roads with parents dropping their children to school and we remind parents not to create a hazard by double parking or parking on yellow lines which is an offence and causes potentially dangerous obstructions around the school gate. It’s also vital that motorists reduce their speed near schools and ensure they give plenty of space when overtaking any children who might be cycling or walking to school. Drivers must also obey the instructions of school wardens as they are there to protect children when crossing the road.”
The RSA’s new ‘Guidelines for improving road safety around your school’ were developed with input from the Department of Education and Skills, An Garda Síochána, Green-Schools / An Taisce, the City and County Managers Association, Local Authority Road Safety Officers, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the National Transport Authority.