In anticipation of the start of the new school and college terms, Police are urging parents and road users across Mid Ulster and Northern Ireland to plan ahead for busier rush-hours and heavier traffic.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd explains: “Over the summer months, many of us have benefitted from lower levels of traffic and shorter journey times.
“As the new academic term begins, it is essential that all road users remain focused on their driving, plan their journey and leave plenty of time as there will be delays. Most importantly, drivers should keep an eye out for children and young people on bicycles or on foot, particularly when close to schools, junctions and at bus stops.
“Parents should ensure that high visibility clothing and bags are worn and carried by children and that road safety instruction is given, in particular, how to cross the road safely – looking both ways without being distracted by friends, mobile phones or music players. Pupils should also only cross where it is safe, preferably at pedestrian crossings.
”It is important that they cross precisely at these locations and not take the risk of crossing even a short distance away. They should also be aware that it’s better to miss the bus and be late as opposed to taking their chances by running across roads to catch a bus.
“Watch for bicycles. Children and young people on bikes can often be inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and the bicycle. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that they wear a properly-fitted bicycle helmet on every ride and that bicycles have been fitted with appropriate lighting.”
In a crash at just 30mph, an unrestrained child can be thrown forward with a force 30 to 60 times their body weight. This means that they would be thrown about inside the vehicle, injuring them and quite possibly seriously injuring or even killing other passengers.
The Assistant Chief Constable also appealed for parents carrying out the school run to slow down and ensure that they stay well within the speed limits and that children travelling to school in cars are properly restrained, warning:
“In a crash at just 30mph, an unrestrained child can be thrown forward with a force 30 to 60 times their body weight. This means that they would be thrown about inside the vehicle, injuring them and quite possibly seriously injuring or even killing other passengers. They are also likely to be ejected from the car through one of the windows.
“Police will be paying special attention close to schools in the first few weeks of term and where offences are noted, whether for speeding, inappropriate parking around schools or allowing children to travel unrestrained, will be issuing advice, guidance, warning and when appropriate, fixed penalty tickets which carry three penalty points,” Assistant Chief Constable Todd said.
Endorsing the road safety appeal Policing Board Chair Anne Connolly said: “As the new school year begins it is vital to heed police advice on how to keep safe on our roads. Too many people are being killed and seriously injured through road traffic collisions and we need to be much more aware of what we can all do to prevent these tragedies from happening.
“We fully support the police and other agencies in tackling this serious issue and welcome the PSNI’s planned activity on the roads around school areas in the coming weeks.”