Reckless parking can be a killer

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) are teaming up with Gateshead Council to get across the important message that irresponsible parking in and around school grounds can be fatal.

The intervention is part of both organisations ongoing road safety campaigns, where in this instance, the lives of young people are being put at serious risk by irresponsible drivers.

On Monday May 17 and Tuesday May 18, a role-play scenario will be re-enacted outside of two busy Tyne and Wear schools – deliberately at peak-time to emphasise the importance of considerate parking.

A TWFRS appliance will travel past Windy Nook Primary School (17 May / 8:45am) and Oakfield Junior School (18 May / 8:45am) as though it were attending a real-life emergency.

TWFRS appliance driving past Windy Nook Primary School as part of Walk to School Week campaign.

Steven Thomas, Head of Prevention and Education at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“Inconsiderate parking could be the difference between life and death.

“If a fire appliance is obstructed and can’t make its way to an emergency call then people’s lives could literally be in the balance.  The same could be said about a pedestrian having to make a detour around a parked car, which could mean them stepping out on to a busy road.

“We would always ask that vehicle users are vigilant of their surroundings and make the right decisions when parking near to the school grounds.  Your choice could easily save somebody’s life.”

In Gateshead 16 schools have signed up to the Living Streets’ Walk to School Challenge. During Walk to School Week, which is taking place from 17 – 21 May, pupils and their parents/carers are encouraged to walk to school as much as possible to reduce congestion around schools making roads around the school gates safer for everyone. Motorists are also being asked to be considerate where they park and to always park legally and safely.

During the week Gateshead Council’s sustainable transport team has teamed up with two schools to try out a walking bus. The schools are Oakfield Primary School in Low Fell and Windy Nook Primary School in Windy Nook. On Friday 21 May, parents of year 3 children from Oakfield and children of all age groups from Windy Nook, will be able to drop off their children in a safe location away from school and then will be walked to school by the Council’s active travel team and school staff. Walking buses are part of the Council’s Be Cool sustainable travel toolkit which will be launched over the next few months with schools. Be Cool will provide self-help resources for schools to reduce congestion at drop off and pick up times and encourage children to get more active.

Councillor John McElroy, Gateshead Council’s cabinet member for the environment and transport said:

“We’re seeing more and more congestion outside primary schools at school drop off and collection. As well as more traffic on the roads being dangerous for pupils, we often see motorists sitting with engines idling leading to extra traffic pollution. Every day we hear of inconsiderate parking which can be hazardous and can prevent vital blue light services dealing with emergencies.

“This week during national Walk to School Week we would like parents to leave their cars at home and walk their children to school. We understand not everyone is able to, but if you can please head to school by foot this week. Children who do some form of exercise on the way to school, especially a walk, often do better as they arrive refreshed, fit and ready to learn. Walking, cycling and scooting is much more fun for children and the less cars we have on our roads the healthier it will be for all.”

“If you do need to drive to school, please park away from the school gates to reduce congestion and free up space for those who need to access the school including those with disabilities and the emergency services. We want the streets around schools to be safe for everyone – remember, don’t park on double yellow lines and across the zig zags outside schools which should always be left clear.”

Lucie Forrest, head teacher of Windy Nook Primary school said: “Parking for parents around any school is difficult as there are never enough spaces during peak periods. We have had number of near misses which is terrifying for both pupils and parents. The road outside our school is extremely busy and, despite traffic calming measures, drivers do not adhere to the rules. We are also close to the hospital and the road is regularly used by emergency vehicles who can struggle to get through due to the congested parking.”

For further information about the road safety work being delivered by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Gateshead Council please visit their appropriate websites.