September is almost upon us, and that means one thing – school’s back! Whether you’re a parent or driver, it’s important that you take extra care on the roads this autumn and encourage your children to do the same. With that in mind, here are a few simple tips to make the journey to and from school safe, fun and hassle free as possible.

Plan your route to school. Cycling, scooting and walking are brilliant forms of transport for both ourselves and the planet, they are also known as active forms travel i.e. they contribute towards our recommended daily amount of physical exercise – 60 minutes for children and 30 minutes per 5 days a week for adults (https://health.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/active_guidelines.pdf). The benefit of travelling in an active way is that you can pretty much guarantee how long your journey will take as you are less likely to get stuck in traffic. So once you know how long it takes to cycle, scoot or walk you are set up for the year ahead. If you are using the bus or LUAS make sure you know the timetable and leave plenty of time to get to/from the right stop. If you have to travel by car consider sharing with friends or neighbours. Ensure you find a safe space to get dropped off away from the school gate. This will enable you to incorporate exercise on the journey to school and will help reduce congestion around the school gate.

On the journey to school. When cycling, scooting and walking to school make sure you are aware of what is going on around you, never take for granted what others are going to do, use a safe place to cross, and always use the School Warden if you have one. If you are travelling by car be mindful of the more vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists, children and the elderly), observe the speed limit, obey the instructions of the School Warden and pedestrian crossings, try not to get distracted by anything within or outside the car, and be considerate of others where and when you park.

Ally Menary, Road Safety Officer for South Dublin County Council encourages people to give serious thought to travelling to school in an active way. ‘Active travel is brilliant for everyone, for our health, for our communities and for our wallet. September is an opportune time to break with our car driving habits to try and create healthy ones instead.’ South Dublin County Council would like to wish everyone a healthy and happy school year ahead.