Serious road casualties rise in Barnsley for the first time in a decade
New methods of road safety education are being adopted in Barnsley after statistics showed the first rise in casualties among young people for a decade.
Barnsley Council is responsible for providing road safety training from primary school age through to college students, with those at secondary schools now regarded as being at the highest risk from injury on the roads.
Now road safety staff are planning new tactics to improve the way young people are taught about how to stay safe – in an era when many may be pre-occupied with mobile phones and have their awareness of surroundings reduced by using earphones – with a concentration on secondary school and college students until the turn of the year, with a focus on primary children after that.
At present, primary school pupils are taken out for roadside training in small groups but that is labour intensive and will be dropped in favour of longer, in-school discussions, which it is hoped will have a more positive long term impact.
It is also hoped that regular sessions will follow, providing a drip-feed of information rather than once a year sessions.
One issue for council staff is getting co-operation from schools, which already have packed curriculums, and they are working to build better contact and provide sessions which have a limited impact on schools’ other activities.
In Hoyland, discussions are taking place with Kirk Balk academy where the offer of road safety assemblies has been made, but road safety staff would like to deliver more extended sessions.
Road safety officer Kerry Birks told councillors: “Some schools are just not getting in touch with us. At some schools, you struggle to get past the receptionist. That is something we need to try to work our way through.
“I want to get into a lot of primary schools with assemblies. They have not been done for a number of years and I would like to be in there four times a year, as a drip, drip, drip.”
Junior road safety officers may also be introduced at primary schools, training some pupils in the role, with notice boards for information and work packages to allow them to work towards spreading safety messages among their classmates.
Colleague Diane Lee said it was also hoped that resources from the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership could be focused on Barnsley schools.
“We measure the rate of people killed or seriously injured (on the roads). For the first time since 2009, it is increasing,” she said.
“It is older children rather than primary school age. To get a better understanding of what is happening, a health needs assessment is being produced.
“We will look at the ages and where it is happening so we can target better,” she said.
Parents who park on yellow zig-zag lines outside schools have also been heavily criticised and education work is now planned, rather than just relying on enforcement, to try to alert people to the danger they create by doing so.
“I am starting to do some community work,” said Kerry.
“The next session will be at the Lightbox library, with activities for children but the main reason I want to be there is to talk to the parents.
“It is the parents in the morning who are dropping children off,” she said.