Making road safety a priority

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ROAD safety experts at St Helens Council are urging parents to make sure their child is well prepared for their journey to school.

Traffic is the biggest single killer of 12-16 year olds. Across Merseyside, 52 children aged 12 to 16 were killed or seriously injured on the roads during 2011.

Council Road Safety Teams across Merseyside are reminding parents that young people in their first few years at secondary school are the most at risk when it comes to injury on the roads.

Many have a longer journey that they are less familiar with, and may have to walk or cycle on busier roads or use public transport on their own for the first time.

They may also be travelling without adult supervision but with friends who distract them from concentrating on their road safety.

Gill Roberts, of the Merseyside Road Safety Officer’s Group, said: “Young people tend to think that road traffic collisions will never happen to them so road safety can seem like a low priority compared to the other pressures of starting secondary school – but the truth is that 12 to 16 year olds are a high risk group.”

Councillor Richard McCauley, cabinet member for Environmental Protection and Safer Communities, said: “Secondary school opens up new opportunities and experiences, and we’d like young people to make the most of this exciting time by being clear that with greater independence comes greater responsibility. It is important they remember that just one moment of distraction near roads can have devastating, life changing consequences.”

Road Safety teams across Merseyside will be delivering interactive road safety awareness sessions in secondary schools this autumn to remind pupils about the dangers of distractions such as mobile ‘phones, I-pods and the biggest distraction of all – their mates.

What can parents do to help prepare their child for independent travel?

l Ask your child to take you with them on their new school route so you can talk through possible hazards together. Help them to plan the safest route to school and discuss why it’s safer.

l Teach your child how to spot what drivers are likely to do next, e.g. the use of road signs.

l If your child has a bike, encourage them to continue wearing a helmet. They can reduce the chances and severity of head injury.

l Explain how to behave safely when using public transport e.g. where to cross the road after getting off a bus.

l Talk to your child about the effect that your child’s friends may have on their behaviour.

Talk to them about peer pressure and risky behaviour, and what they could do if their friends were behaving in an unsafe manner.