The Road Safety Authority has this week published new guidelines aimed at improving the safety of children and drivers as we return to school.
The ‘Guidelines for Improving Rod Safety Around Your School’ provide information and tools to help schools create a plan to cut down on risks and incidents during the commute to and from school.
These include encouraging schools to encourage active travel rather than dropping kids off by car where possible, provide infrastructure for people travelling by bike, and a safe place for kids to wait on school grounds in the morning.
Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA, said that each school has unique road issues depending on whether it is rural or urban, particularly while opening or closing.
“The mix of road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, vehicles and other road-using public, can lead to an unsafe environment.”
“The RSA’s new guidelines, which have been developed in collaboration with government departments and agencies, will help school management to develop and implement a road safety action plan to reduce the risk of injuries while students and staff are travelling to and from school.”
“It gives valuable advice on identifying the areas of concern around your school environment. It offers suggestions on how best to address these issues, provides examples and tells you where you can get help.”
Creating an action plan involves identifying road safety risks that are present, before considering ways it can be removed or isolated from pedestrians, and if not, change the way that people work in order to avoid it.
Local authorities are also encouraged to play a role in guaranteeing road safety around schools by reducing speed limits, improving footpaths and pedestrian crossings, or creating dedicated ‘school zones/streets’.
Galway TD and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton said that she would encourage schools to read the guidelines, and develop new plans for road safety.
In Galway, there were 14 schools chosen for the initial roll-out of the ‘Safe Routes to School’ programme in June of this year.
This aims to encourage active travel such as walking and cycling among kids, and reduce congestion around school gates, by providing walking and cycling facilities and even a complete reworking of a school’s entrance.
“Funding for the rolling programme will be provided from the €1.8 billion for walking and cycling infrastructure committed under the programme for government,” Hildegarde Naughton said.
The RSA’s new guidelines for ‘Improving Road Safety Around Schools’ are available here.
The RSA and An Garda Síochána are also reminding drivers that there will be a significant increase in road traffic as schools return.
Assistant Garda Commissioner Paula Hillman said “We always urge road users to behave responsibly but extra vigilance is required as children return to school.”
“It’s also vital that motorists reduce their speed near schools and ensure they give plenty of space when overtaking any children who might be cycling or walking to school.”