POLICE are stepping up patrols around Sheffield schools as the new term starts today - to crack down on dangerous parking by parents.
South Yorkshire Police’s It’s Your Child campaign, backed by The Star, will see officers pounding the pavements around schools over the next two weeks to tackle the problem head-on.
And road safety workers have issued a plea to parents to curb bad parking habits as the new school year gets under way.
Thousands of children across South Yorkshire returned to the classroom today following the summer holidays - and the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership has called on mums and dads to put safety first.
The campaign is aiming to ease the daily traffic chaos outside schools, by targeting parents and guardians who park illegally or in unsafe places to drop their children off.
Parents are being encouraged to park further away and walk their children to the entrance - or, better still, abandon the car altogether in favour of a healthy stroll.
Last term The Star paid surprise visits to several problem schools in Sheffield - and caught motorists in the act blocking traffic, parking on double yellow lines and causing safety hazards.
When challenged, many offered feeble excuses or refused to speak about their disregard for the rules.
Superintendent Eddie Murphy, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “Let’s make sure our children can get to school in safety.
“Remember a vehicle can be a deadly weapon and the consequences of a traffic collision can be devastating for everyone involved.
“The emphasis is on encouraging parents to walk to school with their children, and setting out ways in which drivers can make the roads outside schools safer for children.
“Walking, even for part of the way, instead of driving to school provides health benefits as well as opportunities for adults to pass on valuable road safety skills to their children.
“Walking is also more environmentally friendly and can save money.”
The It’s Your Child campaign prompted hundreds of letters, calls and emails from readers of The Star, teachers and governors, all citing schools where the daily run was ‘an accident waiting to happen’.
As the new term begins, The Star will work with the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership to drill the safe driving message home.
And, to help parents along the way, campaigners have come up with three simple steps to improve safety around schools:
n Never park on zig-zags. They provide a clear space for pedestrians, where they can see traffic and traffic can see them.
n Avoid parking on pavements, this can force pedestrians into the road.
n Always stop for school crossing patrols. They are working to make the roads safer for pedestrians.