Back to school road safety tips for your children
It's our duty to ensure our vulnerable road users don't learn lessons the hard way - RSA expert
Secondary school children are heading back to school this week and the majority of primary schools will be back next week. It's a time of great preparation for families as everyone gets set for the new academic year.
With all the stresses and excitement that this brings, one critically important activity can be overlooked by parents - ensuring their children are safe on journeys to and from school.
Children are our most vulnerable road-users and so it is up to parents and teachers to ensure we play our part in keeping them safe.
The start of the school year means many children take to the roads on their bikes. Using a bike for the first time and learning to cycle has been a rite of passage for generations of youngsters.
Parents play an important role in encouraging safe cycling by giving children proper guidance and instruction at an early age to ensure that basic safety rules are absorbed while young. A sit-down to run through the main safety considerations along the route to school is a good idea for parents of children over 12 years walking or cycling to school. For those under 12 it's advisable that an older sibling or adult accompanies them to school.
As the back-to-school season kicks off, we are placing an emphasis on safe cycling and have assisted with the development of Cycle Right, the National Standard for Cycle Training, with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Cycling Ireland and other agencies and groups.
Cycle Right provides practical cycle safety and skills training to promote competent and confident cyclists. The programme delivers cycle training across Ireland and gives primary school children the chance to train to cycle their bikes with skill and confidence and to experience cycling on the road, for what may be the first time for many.
Here are a few safety cycling tips to keep in mind for children:
* Cycle a bike that matches their height and experience.
* Wear a safety helmet.
*Make sure the bike is fitted with lights. White to the front and red to the rear. Don't forget the bell.
* Don't wear loosely-worn scarves or other clothing that could get caught in the wheels or chain-set.
* Don't take unnecessary risks on your journey.
* Don't listen to music on headphones while cycling.
We are also urging parents to ensure their child is visible when walking or cycling, or when waiting for the school bus.
For the seventh year running, the RSA and ESB Networks will distribute free high-visibility vests to every child starting school in September. To date, this partnership has provided 800,000 children with these high visibility vests.
Schools can also register online for the RSA's 'Back to School' road safety packs which will be sent to primary schools nationwide over the coming months.
We have issued recommendations to schools if they intend to hire a bus to carry children on organised trips. The bus company should be asked to confirm in writing that it is providing safe and legal transport services. It is not necessary to look for this for every journey but it should be requested on at least two or three times throughout the school year. A declaration form is downloadable for rsa.ie.
The RSA has a number of road safety resources for teachers and students which aim to promote and encourage road safety at primary and secondary schools.
These resources can help make journeys to and from school safer for children but ultimately, all road users have a responsibility to keep the roads safe for each other.
I would ask all drivers to be conscious of young road users at all times, but particularly in the mornings and afternoon as they travel to and from school.