Gardai to target road rage aimed at lollipop wardens
Rogue drivers are being targeted in a bid to tackle road rage towards lollipop ladies.
Road Safety Officers and gardai are now warning that abuse and intimidation of the traffic wardens will not be tolerated when pupils return to school in a fortnight.
The move follows garda intervention after a lollipop lady in Co Louth was abused and threatened earlier this year.
Gardai had to issue an official letter to parents of pupils of St Brigid's National School in Drogheda as a result of parents driving carelessly and parking dangerously and a small number had even been verbally abusing the local traffic warden.
A number of random garda checks at the school were carried out in a bid to stamp out the behaviour.
In the UK, a lollipop lady gave up her job after 12 years' service, because she could no longer tolerate the abuse by intolerant parents dropping off their children.
Separately, a Manchester mother was fined and warned about her future behaviour after abusing and threatening to run over a 70-year-old lollipop lady.
A Road Safety Officer yesterday confirmed that colleagues and school principals across the country were horrified by the number of motorists who ignored the lollipop lady, with some even driving past, pretending not to see the warden in the middle of the road.
There are now more than 400 lollipop wardens working across the country - all attempting to ensure that children get to and from school safely.
Noel Gibbons, who is Road Safety Officer with Mayo County Council, said that many drivers were ignoring the lollipop 'stop' sign, even though they are legally obliged to do so.
The wardens, like gardai, have the legal power to stop traffic.
Drivers who fail to stop for lollipop ladies and their male counterparts could face a €120 fine, four penalty points and disqualification.
Other common problems include driving around a school warden while the warden is on the road; revving engines or sounding horns while the warden and children are crossing; driving very close to the warden; and swearing and using threatening language.
"Many drivers are blatantly ignoring the 'stop' sign because they are frustrated over traffic hold-ups. They are now taking it out on the school wardens. This is very dangerous and a big problem," said Mr Gibbons, who described the practice as "lollipop bashing".
He stressed that wardens provided an essential service, especially in urban areas where people wanted to send their children to school by foot. He said it was "very worrying" that some drivers adopted an aggressive approach to the wardens.
Mr Gibbons also warned that cyclists have to stop when requested to do so by a warden.
Under new laws introduced recently, cyclists failing to stop for a school warden are subject to a €40 fine.