Sunday 4 December 2016

Hate to remind you, but it is time to think of 'back-to-school safety'

Our RSA expert says now is a good time to teach vital lessons especially to younger road users

Published 10/08/2016 | 02:30

Now is the time to teach road safety
Now is the time to teach road safety

Typical, isn't it? No sooner have the schoolbags been thrown under the stairs and the summer holidays started than we're starting to think about school again. It seems to get earlier and earlier every year.

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In our house, the back to school planning starts in late June. I learned a long time ago that the early bird catches the right uniform.

To be honest, it really helps to alleviate some of the back-to-school stress when you know you have the essentials sorted. So the uniforms are bought early, books organised and then we can relax.

Like most parents, around the beginning of August we start to think about those other things that need to be organised before the children go back to school, such as stationary, lunch boxes and PE kits.

While you're compiling that checklist of things to do, I would really encourage you to make sure road safety is as much of a priority as everything else.

Last year, three children aged 15 and younger were killed on our roads. This was a significant reduction compared to 2014 when 15 children were killed. Losing a child is utterly tragic and incomprehensible, even more so when the sad reality is that most collisions on our roads are preventable.

Although we can't control how others behave on the roads, we can certainly take responsibility for how we, and our youngest and most precious road-users, use the roads.

Your child will be using the roads every single day over the next few months, whether they are walking, cycling or getting the bus, train or car to school.

So it is critical that they know how to use the roads safely.

Taking the time to teach your child good road safety behaviour at an early age can help to develop a lifelong commitment to road safety.

Before school starts again, make sure they know the basic rules of road safety and if possible, walk or cycle the route to school together so they are comfortable with it.

Never let young children make their way to school on their own. They're simply too young and inexperienced to manage traffic or cross the roads by themselves. Research has shown that children under the age of 12 should be accompanied by an adult if walking or cycling to school, until they're old enough to go on their own.

If your child travels to school by bus or in the car, make sure they use the correct restraint at all times, for example, a child car seat, booster cushion or safety belt. Show them the correct way to get on and off the bus, in particular, where they should stand to safely wait for its arrival and before crossing the road.

If your child walks or cycles to school, make sure they are wearing proper safety and high visibility gear - a helmet and high-vis vest if they cycle, and a high-vis vest or armband if they walk. This year, through our partnership with ESB Networks, we will once again be providing every child starting school with a high-vis vest, so make sure your child uses theirs. Make sure their bicycle has working lights and a bell and show them how to keep them well maintained.

If you have younger children, teach them the 'Safe Cross Code' and make it a part of their 'going to school' routine. There are lots of resources available on the RSA website to make this a fun and enjoyable way to learn about road safety.

Teachers also play a critical role in helping to form positive and safe attitudes to road safety among our youngest road-users. The RSA has produced a range of educational programmes for use in pre-schools right up to third level to promote safe road use from an early age.

Finally, remember that as parents and guardians the best person to teach your child how to use the roads safely is you.

They look to you for guidance and confidence, so set a good example.

Indo Motoring

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