With winter weather continuing and the new school term beginning, Police are asking everyone to play their part in making our roads safer…

“Everyone has a contribution to make to road safety”, said Inspector Rosie Leech, “whether you are a pedestrian, cyclist, motorist or motorcyclist. There are steps we can all take to ensure our own and other’s safety on the roads.

“As the new academic term begins all motorists and motor cyclists should remain focused on their driving and plan to 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 understand 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.”

Inspector Leech 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.

“We 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, we will issue advice, guidance, warning and when appropriate, fixed penalty tickets which carry three penalty points.”

Police will also continue their education programme with local schools through visits from Road
Education Officers and the Roadsafe Roadshow (delivered by PSNI, Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and sponsored by AXA). Road Education Officers are also keen to roll out Kids Court across schools in Northern Ireland during 2018.

A pilot Kids Court took place at St Aloysius Primary School in Lisburn during October. Drivers caught exceeding the 30mph limit outside the school were given the option of attending ‘Kids Court’, and facing a panel of children to account for their actions. The ‘judges’ were pupils at St. Aloysius Primary School and drivers who exceeded the 30mph limit were given the chance to explain to the children why they were speeding – the alternative was receiving an invitation to the Speed Awareness Course. As well as being asked why they were speeding, a number of motorists were also asked questions about road safety.

Con Jacky McDowell explained: “We worked alongside teachers and staff of the school to educate pupils about road safety. As part of this education, pupils participated in projects which highlighted the dangers of excessive speed for road and traffic conditions, making them aware of their own vulnerability and responsibility, when near a road. They used their knowledge to educate drivers who exceeded the speed restriction outside their school, showing the potential of what could have happened. This personalised the message to those drivers who agreed to meet with the pupils.

“The goal of the project was to change driver behaviour through this experience of personally meeting with the pupils and it was very successful. We are keen to roll out this initiative to other schools in Northern Ireland this year and continue to educate motorists about why this 30mph limit is safe and encourage them to think about their behaviour on the roads.”

Photo Caption: Pictured at the first ever Kids Court in Northern Ireland are: Martin McDonald, Board of Governors, St Aloysius Primary School, Primary 7 teacher Deirdre Brennan, Con Jacky McDowell, PSNI Road Safety Education Officer, and Primary 7 pupils from St. Aloysius Primary School, Lisburn.

Ni4kids is delighted to be working in a new partnership with The Police Service of Northern Ireland to bring you useful and current crime prevention and safety advice. In each issue of Ni4kids throughout 2018, we will focus on a series of topics in response to feedback from a survey of 800 parents, grandparents and carers who told us which subject matters they would like covered to help educate and empower children.


Wendy McCague


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