Basic rules for a safe back to school
Authorities recommend parents to walk the route to school with their children before the start of the academic year and to ensure the use of bicycle helmets. In the vicinity of study centers, the police will monitor driving speeds, driver's use of phones and compliance with traffic rules at pedestrian crossings.
Summer in Finland is coming to an end and the school year is about to start. In Finland, this means thousands of very young children walking, riding bikes and crossing streets to access their study centers, with the risks that it entails.
Not only children, but also drivers must get used to this new situation and do everything they can to avoid accidents.
The police is determined to "ensure the safety of pupils starting the school year" this week (32) and the next (33). And for that reason, the National Police Board announced that patrols will "perform intensive monitoring of driving speeds between 12 and 18 August 2019, particularly in the vicinity of schools".
The goal is to make drivers aware of the need to meet these speed limits, which tend to be more demanding near schools.
The police explained in a press release that will enforce speed limits around schools specifically from 12 to 18 August, in accordance with the European-wide enforcement theme (TISPOL). In addition to enforcing speed limits, monitoring will focus on drivers’ use of mobile phones and safety equipment and compliance with traffic rules at pedestrian crossings.
“As the new school year begins, the goal of the police is to be on the streets as visibly as possible, as this is the best way to influence peoples’ driving habits,” explained Chief Superintendent Heikki Kallio, from the National Police Board.
"Special duty of care"
Kallio remarked that both now as the new school year begins and in the future, drivers must pay particular attention around schools and remember their special duty of care whenever there are children on the streets.
The police also recommend that adults walk the route to school with their children before the school year begins.
“The child gains a clearer understanding of the school route and potential dangers by walking it in the company of an adult and deciding the safest route,” said Heikki Kallio, who remarked that "even if the child is familiar with the basics, it is worth going over them again".
“For example, children should be reminded to always check both ways before crossing the road, even at crossings with traffic lights", this police expert stressed.
Cyclists and electric scooters also monitored
At the start of the school year, police will also enforce rules on cycling or riding electric scooters and other vehicles on sidewalks.
“By law, only children under the age of may ride bicycles on pedestrian paths. Everyone older than 12 must use cyclist paths or the road. Many adult cyclists seem to have forgotten this rule” said Chief Superintendent Kallio.
Electric scooters are classified as light electric vehicles (top speed 25 km/h) and may be used on cyclist paths and bike lanes. If there is no separate path or lane, electric scooters must use the right side of the roadway.
Adults must set an example for children
The police also reminded the public that, for their own safety, cyclists should always use a helmet. "The power of example should also not be ignored", says the press release.
“It is worryingly common to see families in which the children are wearing helmets but the parents are not. Many parents also talk into mobile phones when driving a car or riding a bicycle. Children should be set a good and safe example already from a young age”, Kallio advised.