Winter school road safety message issued

'Be Vigilant and Stay Safe' is the key message from Education Authority Chief Executive Gavin Boyd to pupils when travelling to and from schools and colleges during the winter months. Also pictured, EA Regional Managing Director Western/North Eastern Regions, Barry Mulholland with pupils from Omagh High School who showcased the high visibility reflective seatbelts fitted on all EA vehicles, front to back: Sarah Clarke, Lewis Dempsey, Jamie Harpur and Emma Campbell.
'Be Vigilant and Stay Safe' is the key message from Education Authority Chief Executive Gavin Boyd to pupils when travelling to and from schools and colleges during the winter months. Also pictured, EA Regional Managing Director Western/North Eastern Regions, Barry Mulholland with pupils from Omagh High School who showcased the high visibility reflective seatbelts fitted on all EA vehicles, front to back: Sarah Clarke, Lewis Dempsey, Jamie Harpur and Emma Campbell.

Parents and guardians have been urged to be vigilant and stay safe when travelling to and from schools during the dark mornings as the Winter Solstice approaches.

The message has been issued by the Education Authority as the daylight hours continue to shorten.

In a letter to all schools, EA Chief Executive Gavin Boyd asked principals to take the opportunity at Christmas assemblies to remind pupils of the need to be seen by drivers, especially during the dark mornings and evenings, when commuting between home, bus stops and school.

He said: “At this time of year, pupils need to be particularly vigilant. Limited visibility during the winter months, along with heavy traffic and the excitement surrounding the Christmas season, can increase the likelihood of serious, and sometimes fatal, accidents.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to use caution and stay focused and alert to ensure children can travel to and from school safely.”

To promote and enhance safe travel for young people, schools have been asked to encourage pupils to wear reflective clothing and high visibility items.

Pupils are most at risk when disembarking buses, and officials said it is important that they take up a position at the side of the road and allow the bus to move safely away before attempting to cross the road.

Pupils should only cross the road when it is free of traffic and when they have a clear view to their left and right.

All school vehicles used to transport pupils are fitted with seatbelts, and parents should also ensure that children know what to do if transport provision is late or does not arrive, and if required, have suitable alternative arrangements in place.