Parking plea to parents by South Shields primary school head

Pupils from Monkton Junior School  with Road Safety GB North East Look Out Leo mascot posters, along with Acting Headteacher Louise Heathfield, (left) and South Tyneside Council Road Safety Officer Julie Inkster, (right).
Pupils from Monkton Junior School with Road Safety GB North East Look Out Leo mascot posters, along with Acting Headteacher Louise Heathfield, (left) and South Tyneside Council Road Safety Officer Julie Inkster, (right).

The head of a primary school is calling on parents not to put lives at risk with their parking - as new figures show one child is hurt in a car accident almost every week in South Tyneside.

Louise Heathfield, acting head at Monkton Junior School, made the plea as pupils return to school the half-term break.

There have been 185 road accidents involving children in South Tyneside between 2012 and 2016

There have been 185 road accidents involving children in South Tyneside between 2012 and 2016

The school, like others in the area, has issues with vehicles parking outside its gates, which makes crossing the road for pupils in a morning and afternoon even more dangerous.

Figures from the charity Road Safety GB North East reveal that between 2012 and 2016, a total of 185 children were injured on roads in South Tyneside, with 23 suffering serious injuries.

In a bid to help youngsters stay safe, the school, in Dame Flora Robson Avenue, South Shields, has enlisted the help of the charity’s new road safety mascot - Leo.

Ms Heathfield said: “Delivering important messages about road safety is a priority for us, especially around this time of year.

We have high volumes of traffic pass our school, especially at the start and end of the school day – and the increased number of parked cars also poses a risk.

Louise Heathfield

“We encourage our pupils to take care and consider the messages they hear in school.

“High volumes of traffic pass our school, especially at the start and end of the school day – and the increased number of parked cars also poses a risk.

Drivers are being urged to cut their speed around schools, playgrounds and shopping centres, to always park in a safe area, and to be prepared for youngsters dashing out.

Paul Watson, chairman of Road Safety GB North East, said: “As a region, we are doing better at keeping children safe on the roads, but there is still room for improvement.”

Julie Inkster, road safety officer at South Tyneside Council, said: “We need to educate children about the dangers of the road, but drivers also need to do their part by slowing down and making sure that any children in their car are strapped in properly.

“If you are driving close to a school or playground, there is a higher risk of a child running out, so take care.

“If you need to park close to a school, pay attention to road markings and only park where it’s safe to do so. They are simple things, but so many people choose to ignore basic safety advice.”

As part of the drive to raise awareness, a number of materials have been created for schools to download to be displayed on walls and for children to take home, giving advice on staying safe as pedestrians, cyclists and car passengers.