Over the past eight days six lives have been lost on Irish roads in road crashes, so in addition to complying with Covid-19 provincial directives, road safety needs to be top priority with students and parents as schools return to a new normal, according to Mayo County Council's road safety officer Noel Gibbons.
In a statement this week Gibbons said: "With a new school year commencing this week, parents are being urged to reinforce basic road safety rules with their children. In this particular school year, due to the pandemic, an increased number of vehicles is expected around schools.
"You might not be ready for the 7am alarm or the fight to get the kids dressed and out the door on time, but the new school term is nearly here, so we’ve put together a guide on back to school road safety tips to help you on your way.
"It could be your child’s first-ever day at nursery, or their first time walking to school on their own (they grow up fast! ).
"Either way, there are lots of road safety tips to take into consideration to avoid accidents, congestion and being late to school!
"After the long break from school because of the Covid-19 lockdown some children are likely to have forgotten most of their knowledge on how to be safe on the roads and this, combined with their excitement about getting back to see their friends at school, means they will be less alert to the traffic dangers going on around them.
"Returning to the routine of school life after such a long time away is quite a significant milestone for many families,
"Mayo County Council’s road safety education team has issued some road safety tips for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
"With all the stresses and excitement that the return to school 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 us all to ensure we play our part in keeping them safe."
Take time to check out the route to school including any potential hazard points along the way. Look for the safest crossing places. If your child is moving up to a new school, plan the journey and allow plenty of time.
Don’t be distracted by use of devices, particularly when crossing the road. Children are advised to wear bright clothing, and preferably reflective or fluorescent items. Regular walking to school is a fantastic way for children and adults to stay active.
Cycling to school
Now is a good time to make sure your child’s bicycle is in good working order – and wearing an approved cycle helmet is recommended. Lights may also be needed during the darker months.
School bus advice
Children are advised to arrive at the bus stop five minutes early. When getting off the bus, they should wait until it moves off and the road is clear in both directions before crossing the road.
Take your time and be patient
The school year comes with a substantial increase in morning and evening traffic. Drivers should allow an extra 10 or 15 minutes for their morning commute.
The extra time will not only reduce stress but help keep our roads safer. Drivers are less likely to speed or engage in other dangerous driving habits when they aren’t running late. It will also provide time to park well away from the school, helping reduce congestion outside school and give children the benefit of a short walk.
Slow down and be alert
Drivers should watch for children walking in the road, especially if there are no pavements in the neighbourhood. Watch for children playing and gathering near bus stops. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
Always obey road rules when driving students to and from school
Don’t park in no-parking zones – this could put you, your child, other students and other motorists at risk. Make sure you’re not blocking a crossing. Stop only when it's safe and legal to do so and ensure you're not obstructing traffic