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'A changed landscape': Drivers warned to be cautious as more children cycling and walking to school

“We must all play our part in getting children back to school safely,” RSA chairperson Liz O’Donnell said.

Image: Shutterstock/LeManna

THE ROAD SAFETY Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána are advising drivers to take extra care when using the roads now that schools have reopened. 

The RSA said 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 one metre overtaking distance when passing cyclists in speed zones up to 50km/h and at least 1.5 metres when passing in speed zones above 50km/h, the RSA said. 

It added that as there is an increase in the number of school buses on the roads, 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, it advised. 

“The roads are busier now as children have returned to school, so we want to remind road users to be extra vigilant and on guard to any potential hazards,” RSA chairperson Liz O’Donnell said. 

“We must all play our part in getting children back to school safely in what is a changed landscape during Covid-19,” O’Donnell said. 

“Parents who have children walking or cycling to school should ensure they practice safe walking and cycling habits by wearing a high-visibility vest and a properly fitted safety helmet. Their bikes should be equipped with a bell, lights and reflectors,” she said. 

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Garda Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman added that “all drivers should ensure children are properly restrained by either wearing a seatbelt or using the appropriate child care seat”.

For the 10th year running, the RSA will be distributing 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 it will distribute another 110,000 vests. 

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