School and college road safety appeal
As the new school and college terms begin, Police are urging parents and road users across Belfast to plan ahead for busier rush-hours and heavier traffic.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said, “Over the summer months many of us have benefitted from lower levels of traffic and shorter journey times.
"As the new academic term begins all road users should remain focused on their driving, plan and leave more time for their journey as there will likely be delays. Most importantly, drivers should watch for children and young people on bicycles or on foot, particularly close to schools, junctions and bus stops.
“Parents should ensure that high visibility clothing and bags are worn and carried by children and that they highlight the importance of road safety, in particular, how to cross the road safely – looking both ways without being distracted by friends, mobile phones or seemingly walking in a daze with earphones connected to 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.
“Please remember that children and young people on bikes can often be inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable, so 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, ensure they wear a properly-fitted bicycle helmet and that bicycles have been fitted with appropriate lighting.”
The Assistant Chief Constable also appealed for parents carrying out the school run to slow down, 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. This scenario is every parent’s worst nightmare, but sadly this is a reality that too many police officers and our emergency service colleagues have experienced.
“Police will be paying special attention to roads 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, they will be issuing advice, guidance, warning and when appropriate, fixed penalty tickets which carry three penalty points.
“Everyone needs to take personal responsibility for road safety,” Assistant Chief Constable Todd said.