Minister Donohoe helps launch ‘Back to School’ campaign as road fatalities among children double in 2014

27th August, 2014

RSA and Electric Ireland encourage parents and teachers to put road safety on the ‘Back to School’ checklist

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and Electric Ireland urge parents, guardians and teachers to make road safety a priority as 13 children under the age of 14 have died in the first eight months of the year on Irish roads. In 2013, six children lost their lives, meaning the number of child casualties so far this year has already exceeded the total number of child deaths in 2013. Six of the children who died on our roads this year were pedestrians, six were car passengers and one was a quad bike user.


Although new research from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has revealed there was an 89% overall reduction in the number of children (0-14 years old) killed on Irish roads in the period 1997 to 2012, there is a danger that this positive trend could be undermined with current statistics that show a rise in child fatalities this year. This report was published today as the RSA and Electric Ireland teamed up for the fifth year running to distribute 85,500 high visibility vests to every child starting school this year. The vests will be included in the RSA’s ‘Back to School’ road safety packs which will be sent to primary schools nationwide over the coming months.


However, the report found that of the child passenger fatalities in this period, 1 in 3 was not wearing a seatbelt or a child restraint. The report also showed that:


  • 262 children were killed and 1115 were seriously injured on Irish roads between 1997 and 2012;


  • Child fatalities decreased by 89% in the period 1997 to 2012 with a 42% reduction in serious injuries, a 72.7% reduction in pedestrian fatalities, a 100% reduction in cyclist fatalities and an 100% reduction in child passenger fatalities;


  • 44% of children who were killed in the period from 1997 to 2012 were pedestrians;


  • 42% of children who were killed or seriously injured between 1997 and 2012 were passengers in a car;


  • 59% of children killed in this period were male;


  • Peak time for children to be killed on the road is between 4:00pm and 5:59pm, and during the summer months.


Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe encouraged parents and teachers to renew their commitment to educating our youngest road-users about road safety, saying:


“The increase in child casualties on our roads this year is incredibly worrying, after many years of seeing year-on-year decreases. Attitudes to road safety are formed at a young age and we would urge parents and teachers to continue to prioritise teaching our youngest and most vulnerable road-users how to stay safe on the roads. As parents and educators, we have a responsibility to teach our children how to be safe when walking, cycling, getting the bus or being driven to school.


We would urge parents and guardians to consider bicycle helmets, bike lights and hi-vis vests or jackets when preparing their ‘back to school’ shopping lists to ensure their children are safe on the roads when travelling to and from school.”


Ms Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority commented:


“We are delighted to work with Electric Ireland to ensure every child who is starting school this year has a high visibility vest to keep them safe and seen on their way to and from school. Every year, we remind parents and guardians to make sure that road safety is a top priority on their child’s back to school checklist. This year, with the rise in deaths of children on our roads, we would ask parents and guardians to more than ever keep road safety top of mind. Children are the most vulnerable of our road-users so it is really important that they are ‘streetwise’ about road safety.”


Speaking at the Launch of the ‘Back to School’ Campaign, Paul Stapleton, General Manager, Electric Ireland said:


“This is a very important initiative for Electric Ireland and we are delighted to partner with the RSA for the fifth year running to promote road safety among our youngest road users and their families. Since the beginning of this campaign, the RSA and Electric Ireland have distributed over 300,000 high visibility vests to children starting school. This helps to ensure children can be seen by other road-users when walking or cycling to school, making sure our youngest and most vulnerable road users are clearly visible on the roads. It also reflects Electric Ireland’s ongoing commitment to promoting safe road use at all times.”


For further road safety information for parents, teachers and students, visit



Notes to the Editor:


The ‘Back to School’ campaign and other Road Safety Authority Educational Initiatives

The ‘Back to School’ Pack for Primary Schools, delivery of which will begin in September, contains:


  •  A high visibility vest for every child starting school in partnership with Electric Ireland which will be delivered at the end of September to coincide with the clocks going back;
  • ‘Going to School’ leaflets for junior infants entering education. This is a parent’s guide to getting children to school safely;
  • A ‘Safe Cross Code’ promotional pack including a CD of the song and a poster with the words of the ‘Safe Cross Code’ song and dance to be taught in the classroom;
  • The ‘Educational News’ newsletter;


The RSA also has a number of other road safety resources for teachers and students including ‘Simon and Friends’ and ‘Beep Beep Day’ which aims to promote and encourage road safety among children aged five and under.


At primary level, ‘Safe Cross Code’, ‘Street Smart’, ‘Be Safe’, ‘Let’s Go’, ‘Seatbelt Sheriff’ and ‘Hi Glo Silver’, teaches young road users how to use the roads safely.


At secondary level, there is the Junior Cycle resource entitled ‘Streetwise’ as well as ‘Your Road to Safety’ for Transition Year. The ‘Let’s Go’ CD, which is a road safety resource for principals and teachers, will be delivered to every secondary school over the coming weeks.


The RSA Shuttle, Rollover Simulator and ‘Street Smart’ will begin visiting schools nationwide at the start of the academic year. Since 2013, 36,943 schools have availed of these educational resources. `


‘Back to School’ advice

The RSA also has the following ‘back to school’ advice for parents, guardians and children:


Travelling by Car

  • All children should be restrained when travelling in a car;
  • Select a restraint that is based on your child’s weight and height and is suitable for the type of car;
  • Remember its safer if children travel in the rear of a car;
  • Never leave children alone in a car.


Walking to School

  • Small children should not cross roads alone. They cannot decide how far away a car is or how fast it is going;
  • Walk the route to school with them in advance;
  • Children walking on country roads should wear reflective armbands and bright clothing;
  • If there is no footpath, walk on the right-hand side of the road facing oncoming traffic keeping as close as possible to the side of the road;
  • Show your child how to cross the road by example. Choose safe places to cross and take time to explain why i.e. footbridges, zebra or pelican crossings, lollipop lady/man or junior school warden patrol.


Travelling by Bus

  • Teach children to take special care getting on or off a bus or mini-bus;
  • While waiting for a bus, children should stand well in off the road;
  • Before crossing the road they should wait until the bus has moved off and they can see clearly in both directions;
  • If seatbelts are fitted, they must be worn.


Cycle Safety

  • Make sure they are highly visible by wearing a reflective belt and bright clothes and wear a bicycle safety helmet on all journeys;
  • Check that the bicycle’s brakes, lights, reflector and bell are in good working order.