School Gate Chaos Forces Teachers To Turn To Councils For Help
Road safety experts are urging extra caution in school zones, as long traffic queues form while thousands more parents than usual drive their children to school to avoid public transport.
School principals, currently dealing with the stress of implementing Covid-19 safety guidelines, are turning to local authorities to assist with school gate safety issues.
With school drop-offs happening differently this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, road safety officials are asking drivers to be extra vigilant and obey all road signs. We understand that the traffic congestion outside schools in the morning and afternoon peak times is very frustrating. Not only that, but illegal parking puts our children at risk.
Officials are seeing an increase in vehicle/cycling and pedestrian traffic this school year as a result compressed drop-off times and more parents potentially opting to drive their children to school instead of having them take the bus. With fewer youngsters being ferried to the classroom on buses, the nightmare of parking outside or near to the school gates has escalated. The fear of spreading the virus further, coupled with staggered timetables, has drawn parents towards using the car more.
Kildare County Council's Road Safety Officer Declan Keogh said "We should all try and keep the momentum of walking and cycling in mind and transfer that to the school run, which, if done properly and collectively, will reduce congestion at schools, thus increasing safety on around the school zone"
With students returning this past week Noel Gibbons, Road Safety Officer with the Communications Office of Mayo County Council , said convenience needs to be put aside and everyone needs to make sure safety is prioritised.
“Things can happen quickly around schools. We need to pay even more attention than we normally do and following speed limits in school zones is absolutely critical. Another step parents can take to follow traffic safety is to watch where they park when picking up or dropping off students.
Parents that have parked too close to crossings, too close to junctions or stop in the middle of the road to either let their child out or pick their child up can cause serious safety issues. Illegal parking also causes congestion and visual obstructions, making it hard for drivers to see pedestrians, including children crossing the street.”
It is important to note that when a vehicle is traveling at 30 km/h it takes 18 meters to come to a full stop, but more than double that distance – 37 meters, when the vehicle is traveling at 50 km/h.
Parents can protect their children by ensuring they are familiar with the rules of the road.
“The vast majority of parents who do the right thing are incensed by those who park dangerously because they have left it too late or don’t want to walk too far
There may be extra pressure on parking around the school gate, so we would urge parents to walk their children to school, or if this is not possible to ensure they leave more time for their journey. Many school runs are part of trip chaining where working parents connect the morning drop-off with the commute to the office.
Despite the fact more people are homeworking, parents sometimes plan to use the car to minimise the time spent away from their makeshift offices. We are encouraging more students to walk or cycle to school where possible, cycle safety training has resumed in schools to encourage and promote cycling as a mode of transport and keep congestion down.”
Brian O'Donnell, Road Safety Officer with Donegal County Council said “While walking your younger children to school it is vital to hold their hand and keep them from running on ahead into moving traffic. Safe supervision is key to all our safety”