KINGSTON — As parents and guardians make final arrangements for the new academic year, which begins on Monday, September 5, the Road Safety Unit (RSU) is appealing for road safety rules to be incorporated into the preparations.
Speaking with JIS News, Acting Education and Information Officer at the RSU, Da’Reon Sevanell, says it is important to educate children how to operate within the busy traffic environment, especially those going to school for the first time.
“You have some first time school goers and what parents need to do is teach them how to be safe,” he says.
Parents are encouraged to take their children along the route that they will travel to school to make them familiar with the road and how to conduct themselves while travelling to and from school.
“Walk with them across the pedestrian crossing. Take them to the signalised crossing and make them know what the flashing hand is for, what the still hand is for, what the representation of the human figure is for. You let them know these things and once you do that they will be able to understand, so when they go out there for themselves, it won’t be something that is new to them or something that they haven’t practised,” he says.
He further advises parents to be role models for their children by practising safe pedestrian habits. They should also use opportunities while walking to have conversations about safety, which the child can easily remember.
Mr. Sevanell decries the practice of small children going to school by themselves stating that “we don’t want to have anything like that."
For parents, who are unable to accompany their children to and from school on a daily basis, he suggests making arrangements for them to travel with an older student.
He points out that the older children would have benefitted from road safety sessions conducted by the RSU and other stakeholders and would be in a position to guide the younger ones in terms of walking on the roads, crossing at the stoplights, pedestrian crossings, and so on.
Motorists are also encouraged to be vigilant bearing in mind that some small children are easily distracted and may act impulsively without being aware of the consequences. Therefore, they are advised to reduce their speed, especially within school zones.
“For motorists, what we would want you to do is when you get to the school zone or even if you don’t see certain signs that should be there, slow down; you know where the schools are and you see the children on the road, so we ask for you to be mindful of the presence of children. When you do this, you will contribute to the students being safer on the roads and I am certain that, that is something that all of us have an invested interest in,” says Mr. Sevanell.
To cross the road safely, the RSU advises children to:
– Stop – Think, Look and Listen for vehicles.
– Check both ways before crossing the road.
– Cross only at intersections. Never cross in the middle of the street or between parked cars, and never run into the road.
– Recognise and follow the crossing signals, and even when the signal says it is safe to walk, make sure the street is clear and all cars have stopped before crossing.
– Use streets with sidewalks. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic, and in single file.
The RSU is a division within the Ministry of Transport and Works, with the mandate to promote and foster an orderly and disciplined traffic culture that is conducive to the development of a safe traffic environment, through the conceptualisation, design and dissemination of a sustained programme of public information, education in schools, legislation, accident information and research.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter