Children in rural areas on unlit roads left vulnerable to traffic accidents
School bus drivers to visit local schools to promote ‘safe uniform’ initiative in absence of Minister or action by Education Authority
Unite Regional Officer, Gareth Scott, welcomed the launch of a Road Safety initiative taken by his union’s members in Fermanagh:
“Our reps among the school bus drivers in Fermanagh are very concerned that children are being left at risk due to the failure of local schools and the Education Authority to integrate reflective strips into uniforms and bus passes.
“In 2009, the Education Board launched an initiative to promote safe uniforms to much fan-fare but with the exception of Devenish College and St Kevin’s in Lisnaskea – there has been a complete failure to deliver.
“This is a particular problem for children living in rural areas where there are no street lights and unfortunately the threat posed is likely to mount if, as proposed in the recent Department of Finance budgetary briefing, street lights are turned off in all but key arterial routes and motorways.
“We need all schools and the Education Authority to be planning now for this eventuality. There really is no excuse for inaction. Reflective strips can easily and with little cost be designed into school uniforms and coats, reflective materials can be integrated into school bus passes.
“One driver recently told me that on even the darkest roads you could not miss a child from Devenish College from a hundred yards but those from other schools can be difficult to see until you are much closer.
“Drivers in both the Education Authority and Ulsterbus have raised increased visibility proposals as a suggestion to management but in both cases they’ve met with complete inaction but our members won’t wait for another unnecessary tragedy to stir a response.
“In the absence of action by the Education Authority or a responsible Minister for Education, our members on the Education Authority buses, on Ulsterbus and the local Unite branch in Enniskillen are joining together to visit local schools to secure ‘buy-in’ for a pilot ‘safe uniform’ initiative in Fermanagh. Once we have rolled it out here, hopefully it will show the powers-that-be that there’s nothing to stop it from being rolled out across the entirety of Northern Ireland”, Mr Scott concluded.