Designated ‘hotspot’ primary schools across Cheshire East are to benefit from a partnership initiative called ‘Safer Parking at the School Gates’.
Since 2010, official figures have revealed roadside accidents near to schools have increased by almost six per cent across England.
In Cheshire East, 32 road accidents occurred near schools in 2016/17 and during the following year, the figure fell to 27, although four were serious and one fatal.
To address this, civil enforcement officers from Cheshire East Council, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and Cheshire Constabulary have joined forces to tackle illegal, irresponsible and inconsiderate parking near schools and to promote road safety.
The first two schools to benefit from the initiative were Alderley Edge Community Primary and Gorsey Bank Primary in Wilmslow.
These visits from the partners are designed to prevent children being injured or killed by vehicles at school drop-off and collection times.
Schools in areas deemed at a higher risk and which have drawn up their own travel to school policies are being additionally supported with the presence of enforcement officers, firefighters and the police at promotional events which feature the lollipop signs.
As part of the safety campaign, ‘Safer Parking at the School Gates’, there are a series of nine cut-out images of children with lollipop signs with key safety messages.
These will be deployed across the borough at those schools where unsafe parking and driving have been highlighted as a particular high risk – giving key safety messages to drivers outside schools.
The message is also promoted within school to children in the hope that it informs and reminds parents to re-think their parking habits.
The messages include: ‘Think before you park’, ‘Thank you for driving carefully’; ‘No stopping here’; ‘Caution children’; ‘Slow down’; ‘Drive slowly’; ‘Don’t park on the yellow lines’; ‘Don’t park on the zig zags’ which are emblazed on the plastic signs.
Councillor Jos Saunders, cabinet member for children and families at Cheshire East Council, said: “One accident is one too many. We want to make sure all our school children are as safe as possible. This partnership initiative is designed to encourage motorists to think more about road safety and for parents and carers to park much more responsibly so that we can aim for accidents and deaths to be eliminated altogether across Cheshire East.
“This innovative approach is refreshing to see and I really like the nine lollipop signs, which all give a range of safety messages to the drivers. It’s a great idea and we hope it will help to make a real difference and help to keep our children safe now and in the years to come.”
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service road safety officer Andy Gray said: “Educating people about the dangers of parking near to schools is vital; by doing so we can help to change the attitudes and behaviour of motorist and create a safer environment for the children and road users around our schools.”
Councillor Margaret Simon, Cheshire Fire Authority’s road safety champion, said: “This excellent example of partnership working focusses on education rather than enforcement. Areas around schools are very busy places at drop-off and pick-up times, it is very easy to lose focus on road safety and to park inconsiderately or dangerously.
“We should all be doing everything we can to encourage safer parking near our schools to reduce the risk of accidents involving children. This scheme will certainly attract attention and deliver a positive message. I look forward to it being rolled out across a wider area.”
Schools are also being encouraged to devise transport plans, which include physical ways to travel to school, for example, cycling or walking or using public transport as opposed to using a car. The schools will have access to funding to buy a set of lollipop signs.