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Safe To School – almost over before it began

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#SafeToSchool, Sustrans, Camapign for Safer Streets, road traffic accidnet, safety, activity, active children

As I mentioned in my previous #SafeToSchool blog post, I am this week going to make an extra special effort to walk, scoot or use public transport when doing the school run. In preparation for this, I did a dry-run on Friday of last week. The journey to school in the morning was great, but the journey home again in the afternoon demonstrated exactly why the #SafeToSchool campaign is so important.

Let’s start with the journey to school. Although there was some grumbling from my eldest daughter, we walked to school. About three seconds into the journey she had a change of heart and decided this might actually be fun, especially when she could race daddy, who was having to push youngest daughter in the pushchair.

We raced pretty much all the way to school. There was much laughter and as we got to each road crossing we were able to practise our road safety skills, which was an added bonus. With daughter dropped off at school, toddler and I were able to enjoy a stroll back into town in glorious sunshine.

The journey in the afternoon was an altogether different affair. For a variety of reasons I had to use the car (I know, I know, I feel your disapproval). After a brief spell at the park, we began our journey home and this involved pulling out of a rather nasty junction.

To be frank, my involvement in #SafeToSchool was almost over before it began as I was very nearly involved in a horrendous road traffic accident. I studiously checked the notoriously fast-paced road. A car was approaching but it was indicating left, as if to turn into the junction I was leaving. All was good, so I pulled out and drove on.

Only thing is, there was a horrendous noise behind me. I looked in the rear view mirror and the car that had been approaching was now skewed at 45 degrees across the road, an unceremonious end to an emergency stop the driver performed to avoid my car. Although their indicator had been on, it was clearly stuck on in error from a previous manoeuvre (perfectly feasible on this stretch of road).

Although I had done so in good faith, I had pulled out into oncoming traffic. I suspect the other motorist was speeding but I can’t ignore the fact that, had there been an accident, it would have been my fault. The other car would have ploughed into the driver’s side of my car, no doubt leaving me injured. It would also have happened very near a school and there were children in the vicinity, not to mention two of them in my vehicle and they, too, would no doubt have been hurt.

It got me thinking about this particular stretch of road. Leaving my own mistake to one side for a moment, it is a very fast moving road and at school drop off and collection time, parents have to walk right alongside it. You see cars speeding, badly parked cars, people dangerously crossing the road with their children and so on. Although I’ve driven along this road and walked alongside it many, many times, it took this near-miss for me to appreciate just how dangerous it is for children and adults alike.

The Safe to School campaign is run by the Charity Sustrans. To find out more, visit the Sustrans website. Alternatively you can follow the #SafeToSchool hashtag on twitter.

6 thoughts on “Safe To School – almost over before it began”

  1. Frightening! As a cyclist I’ve learned not to trust motorist’s signals… or more often, lack of them. Makes the journey longer, but at least we get there!
    Good luck for the rest of the week.

    1. Thanks for commenting Tim. As if to prove your point, about never trusting motorist’s signals, I saw a car drive past the very same junction yesterday indicating left….and it just continued straight on. Thankfully there was no near miss this time.

  2. If roads were designed and managed like railways are then a near miss like that would have to be reported and the report would check all the detail objectively and impartially.

    The result would be recommendations for removing the hazard (a slow car pulling in front of a faster one) or managing things to mitigate the risk (slowing speeds, making all car drivers stop & look, use traffic signals etc).

    Sadly we don’t have this and that is why there are so many crashes, deaths and injuries on the roads, and so few on the railways.

  3. You shouldn’t feel guilty about driving the school run, it’s a perfectly rational choice when it feels quicker, safer and more convenient to go by car. Rather, we need space for cycling to make it faster, convenient and safe by bike. The school gate should be enhanced to reward arrival on foot or by cycle. Often this feels like the worst part of the journey to school because danger posed by parking & maneuvering cars.

    Your experience shows that the feeling of safety in a car may be misplaced. The safety features of cars seem to make drivers feel invulnerable and engage in risky behaviour. Your piece also illustrates that near misses have an impact and as parents take their kids to school, the close encounters with, and present danger of moving traffic makes walking & cycling seem subjectively a less safe and attractive option. What we need is safe routes to school.

  4. Pingback: #SafeToSchool – midweek update | Dad Blog UK#SafeToSchool - midweek update - Dad Blog UK

  5. Pingback: #SafeToSchool – midweek update

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