Give all those who work on the road a chance to do so in safety
We need to be much more careful, especially with school wardens, our RSA expert warns
Published 16/03/2016 | 02:30
When we shoot our road safety TV ads, it usually involves filming on a stretch of road. We've filmed on everything from boreens to motorways.
By far the most challenging shoot was our Motorway safety TV advert. We filmed some scenes on the M1, at night, to show what to do in the event of a breakdown.
Nobody was allowed on the hard shoulder who didn't have a direct role in the filming. The rest of the crew waited at a nearby service station.
While the gardai and motorway maintenance crews were there to help with traffic management, I tell you, standing on the hard shoulder of the motorway while traffic shot past at 120kmh was sobering.
You understand just how dangerous a place it can be.
But as I looked around me at the gardai and maintenance workers I realised they faced these dangers on an almost daily basis.
For them the road is their workplace.
The gardai, fire brigade, ambulance paramedics, council workers, utility company employees, school wardens are vulnerable road workers.
All face danger when working on the road and are entitled to go about their work - to make travel safer for everyone - in the knowledge their safety is guaranteed.
There are health and safety procedures they put in place to achieve this. But while they will try to mitigate risk, the biggest and most unpredictable danger they face is from you, the driver.
This week we met with some organisations whose staff work on the road.
They were looking for our help to educate drivers on the need to watch out for, and drive responsibly around, their staff.
Whether it's gardai at a checkpoint, emergency services at a crash scene, council workers clearing blocked drains, they deserve to do so in safety.
One category of vulnerable road worker that came in for special mention was school wardens.
There have been a number of recent collisions iinvolving them and children under their care. None resulted in serious injury, but that's only due to the grace of God.
It's shocking, but the problem is becoming so serious it may put some school warden schemes in jeopardy.
All because of the irresponsible, impatient and ignorant behaviour of some drivers. Even more shocking is that parents of children using the service are not blameless.
A school warden's job is to keep children safe. But to do this they put themselves at risk every time they step onto the road.
The biggest danger they face is drivers who are not aware there are school children crossing up ahead. Drivers fail to see road signs and road markings. They don't slow down. When they do, it's at the last minute.
Parents abuse the system too by using the school warden to stop traffic so they can let their child out to rush across the road. Parents should stop at suitable locations and not at crossing points.
A school warden shouldn't have to go out of his or her way to get a driver's attention to force them to stop.
Drivers can help by looking out for the road signs, in some cases flashing amber signals and the obvious road markings and zig zagging lines that alert them to a school crossing.
And when a school warden points their road sign out in front to signal they're going to cross, that's your signal to stop, and not to speed up.
If we don't appreciate the valuable work they do, and this extends from employer to the support of the principal, teachers, board of management, parents and drivers, we risk losing this vital community service.
Vulnerable road workers deserve our respect and a safe working environment.
Watch out for them and slow down.