Let’s cut road risk at school gates

September 25 2014

ONE local mother is determined to improve road safety around schools by encouraging parents to change the way they drop off their children.

ONE local mother is determined to improve road safety around schools by encouraging parents to change the way they drop off their children.
After examining the routes that youngsters take to and from school, Sefton Park parent, Jo Sibson, came to the conclusion that children are most in danger when they are within 200m of the gates due to heavy congestion, manoeuvring vehicles, and cars waiting on yellow zig-zags.
"I have had parents tell me of near-misses and heart stopping moments that shouldn’t be happening," Jo said. "We put our own child’s safety as our number one priority but are often blind to other people’s children being at risk when we drive our car right up to the school gate."
The initiative has already gained support from local estate agents CJ Hole, who will be providing signage for the campaign, and the RAC, which is promoting road safety in schools nationwide. The motoring company has also introduced road safety mascot Horace to help get the message across to parents and children in a fun way.
Introducing 'park and stride' and a 'five-minute walking' zone, are just a few of the ideas that Jo has in order to deter parents from dropping children off at the school gate.
Alongside one of the Sefton Park teachers, Jo organised a walk-out with some of the children, parents and local PCSOs to identify places where parents could park safely and still be within a five-minute walking distance of the school.
A school road safety council has also been formed amongst children, and letters are being written home to parents, encouraging them to consider leaving home five minutes earlier.
Park and stride involves parents driving part of the way to school, parking, and then walking the rest.
"Many parents say they drive to school because they need their car to travel on to work, but it's become more dangerous as more cars are trying to park as close to the school gates as possible," Jo explained. "This scheme shows families that it can often be quicker and easier, and indeed less stressful to leave the car at home while they do the school run - and they can get some healthy exercise at the same time."
She added: "How we bring this culture change into being is the challenge and I am always keen to hear from parents who may have suggestions to help bring this about."
RAC head of external affairs, Pete Williams, said: “The pupils and teachers at Sefton Park School are now taking valuable steps to reduce the number of parents driving up to the school gates in what is a difficult and congested cul-de-sac. 
"While we recognise many parents need to drive and juggle family and work commitments we are asking everyone to be mindful of the added danger extra traffic around the school gates poses for children.
“Sefton Park School is making a great effort to raise awareness of this issue and the RAC fully supports the campaign and would urge all parents to ‘ditch the lift’.”

Sefton Park School