MOBILITY AND TRANSPORT
European Road Safety Charter
Good Practice

Back to School campaign for all children starting primary school for the first time and for students starting secondary school.

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Back to School campaign for all children starting primary school for the first time and for students starting secondary school.

Please describe the main road safety challenges/problems you have addressed or are addressing. 
Children are our most vulnerable road users but they cannot be responsible for their own safety when using the road. They simply do not have the cognitive skills to be able to recognise danger, therefore programmes like the Back to School campaign and Safe Cross Code are vital in teaching children essential road safety skills at a young age. No child should walk or cycle on their own to school without supervision. This year marks the 12th year of this campaign. Every year we pick a different topic. In 2021 we launched our Guidelines to improving road safety around your school. The aim is to provide information and tools which will assist school management to develop and implement a road safety action plan in collaboration with the school community to reduce the risk of any incidents occurring during the commute to and from school. In 2020 our theme was about being cautious when children walk and cycle to school. In 2022 we are launching our new Virtual Learning Platform which is an innovative educational programme for schools.

Project activities

If you work together with external partners, list the most important partners and briefly describe their role. 
In August every year, the Minister for Transport, Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána (Irish Police) advise drivers to take extra care when using the roads when national and secondary schools have reopened. A photo call takes place with the Minister, RSA and Irish people and is circulated to the media together with the press release which quotes from all partners. The media are also invited to the photo call to ensure the campaign gets as much exposure as possible.
Please describe the project activities you carried/are carrying out and the time period over which these were implemented. 
The RSA advise drivers to take extra care on the road when schools reopen after summer holidays. This is a campaign organised annual by the RSA. It takes place in August every year in advance of schools reopening. There is a significant increase in school-going traffic and drivers should notice 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 1m overtaking distance when passing cyclists in speed zones up to 50km/h and at least 1.5m when passing in speed zones above 50km/h. There is an increase in the number of school buses on the road too and 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. In August every year we do a launch with our Minister for Transport and An Garda Siochana to raise awareness of this activity. This is also issued in national newspapers and activity takes place on radio and TV to promote the campaign. It is also promoted on social media. We also distribute Back to School packs and schools can apply for the packs by visiting www.rsa.ie. Primary school packs will include: - A high visibility vest for every child starting school - ‘Going to School’ leaflets for junior infants entering education. This is a parent’s guide to getting children to school safely; - A Road Safety Promotional Pack including reflective bag strips to help students starting secondary school to be more visible while on the roads - The ‘Educational News’ newsletter; Secondary school packs will include: - Reflective Strips for 1st year students to attach to their schoolbags and help students be more visible on the roads - Poster which includes cycling and walking tips for all students in school - Wall planner for Leaving Certificate students for recording all the important dates and events while at the same time being reminded of their responsibility on the road when starting to drive. - Poster for Leaving Certificate students entitled “Get This Season’s Killer Look”, aimed at discouraging women from wearing their seatbelts under their arm, which can cause horrific injuries in the event of a collision. - 'Travel to school by bus safely’ poster which shows safe behaviours when travelling to school by bus
List the actions you carried/are carrying out 
Date 
Friday, 10 June, 2022

Evaluation

What has been the effect of the activities? 
We know from our media reports following the campaign that advertising alone reaches over 3.5 million people so we are targetting this amount of people in relation to road safety when children return to school after summer break. Provisional road collision statistics show that the number of road deaths in Ireland in 2021 dropped to a record low, making it the safest year since road deaths were first recorded in 1959.
Please briefly explain why your initiative is a good example of improving road safety. 
We are targetting all road users with this campaign. There is an increase in the number of school buses on the road and 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. One local project that is using ‘active modes’ of transport to get children to school is the ‘Galway Cycle Bus’, Knocknacarrra, Co. Galway. The ‘Galway Cycle Bus’ project won an RSA Leading Light in Road Safety Award for Sustainable Travel in 2019 for their innovative and sustainable way of getting to school. The Galway Cycle Bus operates two routes with separate starting points and several intermediate stops where children and parents can join the cycling bus and cycle safely in convoy, before reaching their final destinations at Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh and Knocknacarra National School. We promote these initiatives as part of our Back to School campaign to make the public aware of activities that can take place to get children to school safely. When schools reopen it is vitally important that we look out for our children on the roads. As we are encouraging children to walk or cycle to school where possible, an increase in young cyclists and pedestrians on the roads is to be expected. Drivers need to adjust both their mindset and driving behaviour accordingly. We also ask parents to remind their children to take care on the journey to and from school. All drivers should ensure children are properly restrained by either wearing a seatbelt or using the appropriate child car seat. We remind all parents dropping children off at school to do it safely, park safely, do not double park, do not park in cycle lanes and do not allow children to alight from a vehicle while in traffic. It is important that areas around schools are safe for all children.
How have you shared information about your project and its results? 
We have shared this information with all our stakeholders and we promote it through national media and through social media platforms. It is also shared with schools through our Nationwide Road Safety Education Service team.