Garda chief urges pupils to police parents’ driving habits

Schoolchildren admit to seeing parents using mobile phones while driving

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris urged man using phone while driving the car

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris urged man using phone while driving the car


Scores of pupils at a Co Westmeath primary school landed their parents in it with the Garda Commissioner by admitting to seeing their parents using mobile phones while driving.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was at Scoil an Chlochair in Kilbeggan on Wednesday to launch a road safety campaign directed at 40,000 school children in the midlands.

The ‘Be Safe Be Seen’ campaign will provide children in schools across Laois, Offaly and Westmeath with high-visibility jackets and stickers as dark winter evenings approach.

Mr Harris was joined by 250 children from the school, doctors from the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore, Fire Service staff, National Ambulance Service crews and Air Ambulance personnel.

When the schoolchildren assembled in the hall they were asked by Tullamore Rotary Club president Ronan Berry: “Hands up, who has seen mammy or daddy checking their phone while driving?” Almost every child in the room raised their arm.

Praising the “extremely worthwhile” initiative, Mr Harris said “if your mum or dad or anybody else is driving on the mobile phone, tell them the commissioner said you have to switch it off”.

He said: “This campaign is around making sure you are visible out on the roads. Please use your vests on the dark nights. You should talk to your parents and to your families about how they can play their part in keeping everyone safe on the roads.”

Road Safety Authority ambassador Gillian Treacy said: “Unfortunately up to this morning there has been 36 pedestrians killed so far this year. That’s 36 empty chairs this Christmas.”

Mr Harris was asked about his new role during a questions and answers session with the children.

Asked what it was like to manage 12,000 gardaí, he replied: “I don’t have to do it on my own. The organisation is full of really, really good people who are working hard and working hard to keep all of you safe. So I put my faith and trust in them and so should you.”

In Ireland, 35 per cent of all childhood deaths are caused by road traffic accidents and half of these are pedestrians. More than 60 per cent of seriously injured children who present as trauma emergencies are injured on the road. The vast majority of them were walking or cycling.