The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána are advising drivers to take extra care when using the roads now that national and secondary schools have reopened, following prolonged closure due to Covid-19.
There is a significant increase in school-going traffic and drivers will have noticed a rise in the number of children using ‘active modes’ of transport such as cycling or walking to get to school. Drivers need to slow down and allow at least 1m overtaking distance when passing cyclists in speed zones up to 50km/h and at least 1.5m when passing in speed zones above 50km/h.
There is an increase in the number of school buses on the road too and drivers need to slow down, and stop if necessary, when buses are pulling in to pick up or drop children off. Drivers need to slow down in the vicinity of schools and obey the instructions of school wardens, who they may not be used to seeing on the road.
One local project that is using ‘active modes’ of transport to get children to school is the ‘Galway Cycle Bus’, Knocknacarrra, Co. Galway.
The project won an RSA Leading Light in Road Safety Award for Sustainable Travel in 2019 for their innovative and sustainable way of getting to school. Originally set up by Alan Curran in September 2018, the Galway Cycle Bus operates two routes with separate starting points and several intermediate stops where children and parents can join the cycling bus and cycle safely in convoy, before reaching their final destinations at Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh and Knocknacarra National School.
Hildegarde Naughton TD, Minister of State for International and Road Transport and Logistics said: “Now that the schools have reopened it is vitally important that we look out for our children on the roads. As we are encouraging children to walk or cycle to school where possible, an increase in young cyclists and pedestrians on the roads is to be expected this year. Drivers need to adjust both their mindset and driving behaviour accordingly.”
For the tenth year running, the RSA will distribute free high visibility vests to every child starting school in September. To date, this campaign has provided 990,000 children throughout the country with high visibility vests and this year they will distribute another 110,000 vests.