The new school year is set to resume for thousands of local students next week and Parkes, Forbes and Lachlan Shire Councils are reminding local drivers and parents about children's safety around schools.
The Councils' Road Safety and Injury Prevention Officer, Melanie Suitor, said that road crashes account for over half of all accidental deaths among children aged 5 - 14 years old.
"Children are vulnerable road users. They are at risk in the traffic environment because of their size, their inability to judge speed and distance, as well as the fact that they may behave unpredictably.
"Drivers are reminded to slow down, pay extra attention and be patient when school resumes as there are more cars, buses and cyclists on the road and young pedestrians crossing the streets. Over the long summer break it is easy to forget just how busy and congested the streets around schools can get.
"This is especially important in country areas with higher speed limits, limited bus stop signage and no footpaths. When the orange (wig wag) lights on the back of a school bus are flashing, you must slow down to 40km/h, as students are either getting on or off the bus.
"Please obey the parking signs around schools. They are there to keep children safe. The most common are 'No Stopping' and 'No Parking'. You cannot stop in a 'No Stopping' zone. You can drop-off or pick-up passengers in a 'No Parking' zone as long as you are only there for two minutes and are no more than three meters away from your car," Ms Suitor said.
There are 40km/h school speed zones in existence around all schools in NSW.
Most school zones are operational between 8 - 9.30am and 2.30 - 4pm on school days, when the lights are flashing.
The school zone in Bushman Street, Parkes, is operational all day from 8am - 4pm. Police will be targeting school zones to ensure drivers obey the 40km/h speed limit when school returns.
"Parents and carers can help students remain safe by regularly reinforcing important road safety behaviours with their children and following the below tips," Ms Suitor said.
Parents and carers should:
- Always make sure your children wear a seatbelt or use a child restraint when travelling in a car. Child restraint laws require children up to seven years old to be restrained in an approved child restraint. In cars with two or more rows of seats, children aged between four and seven can only travel in the front seat if the back seat is full of younger passengers.
- Always drop-off and pick-up your children on the school side of the road.
- Make sure children use the footpath-side door when getting in and out of a car -this is called the 'safety door'.
- Never call your children across the road to you.
- Use a pedestrian crossing where possible and avoid being distracted by friends, mobile phones or listening to music through headphones whilst walking.
- Children aged up to 10 years old should always be supervised when near traffic.
- Children aged up to eight years old should always hold an adult's hand when crossing the road or walking near traffic.
- Make sure your children always wear a helmet when riding a bike.
- If your children catch a bus, always walk with them to the bus stop.
"Road safety around schools is everybody's responsibility - students, teachers, parents, carers and drivers. We all have a part to play," Ms Suitor said.