Police are reminding parents and other drivers that children may have forgotten basic road safety rules as they head back to school this year after the holidays, and that they need to reinforce these rules again even if they think their child is road savvy.
A two month break from thinking about and repeating basic road rules on the way to school, coupled with enthusiasm for seeing school friends again, means children are vulnerable to being less alert to traffic dangers than they were when they left school at the end of the year.
“Both teachers and parents would attest to summer learning loss where kids forget things over the long summer holiday, so adults need to remind children again to cross at crossings, look both ways, and not run after things onto the road. Also remind them to comply with police, school patrols and wardens, and adult supervisors,” says Inspector Paula Holt, Prevention Manager, NZ Police.
The NZ Transport Agency says it’s time to ditch the laid back holiday mode and be vigilant to ensure everyone stays safe on our roads: “With the roads far busier with both vehicles returning to work and children back at school everyone’s going to have to get used to sharing the road again,” says Harry Wilson, the Transport Agency’s Safety Director.
“We want the new year to start safely for everyone and that means drivers need to take extra care, watch their speed and be on the lookout for cyclists and pedestrians, especially around schools.”
Caroline Perry, from Brake, the road safety charity agrees: “Our children are precious and as drivers we have a responsibility to do what we can to keep them safe.”
“That means slowing down around schools, keeping your attention fully on the road and looking out for kids. Even small increases in speed result in a much greater increase in your stopping distance, and can be the difference between life and death for someone on foot or bike. So it’s vital you slow down around schools. Children make mistakes, but they don’t deserve to pay for them with their life.”
“One way to increase children’s safety and get to know other kids in the street and their whanau is to use Walking School Buses,” says Inspector Holt.
“Thousands of primary students throughout New Zealand already walk to school with their friends and neighbours with an accompanying adult. Younger children can be taught good road safety skills and older children can help teach them.”
“We encourage schools and parents to embrace Walking School Buses if available as an easy, fun and healthy way to get to school safely.”
More information on setting up a Walking School Bus can be found here