IT’S difficult to believe that the summer holidays have flown by so quickly, but it’s back to school for primary and second-level students next week when traffic will become heavy again in the mornings and this brings some attendant dangers. Drivers need to be on higher alert, but it is also incumbent on parents of children to make sure their offspring can be seen by motorists, especially as daylight hours start to become shorter, when walking, cycling or even waiting for the school bus.
Already, the evenings are noticeably closing in after a summer of mixed fortunes, weatherwise, and as families settle back into the school routine, safety needs to be prioritised in a year in which the number of road fatalities has increased. There is no shortage of high-visibility apparel fairly freely available, so there is no excuse not to avail of it; the Road Safety Authority and ESB Networks, commendably, will distribute free high-visibility vests to every child starting school in September.
Children are amongst the most vulnerable of our road users, especially as pedestrians or cyclists, and can often get distracted, therefore motorists need to expect the unexpected. The RSA maintains that children under 12 should be accompanied by a responsible adult, if walking or cycling to school, as they don’t have the necessary skills or experience to manage traffic or cross the roads safely.
Theoretically, parents are the best teachers of road safety, but they must behave as role models themselves if they are to get across the basic rules of the road and exercises such as the ‘Safe Cross Code.’ One cannot beat good example and plenty of practice is necessary also to impart the message to youngsters.
When in their family cars, children need to be restrained by appropriate seat belts – and of course this is even more important when they are on school buses. Parents should never leave children standing on the side of the road in the dark to wait for a bus.
They are the country’s future so let’s keep them safe.