Ensure safe drop-off zones in schools

ROAD injuries are the commonest cause of death in Malaysian children aged 1-18 years.

The Clinical Research Centre Perak has done a study to determine the safety of drop-off and pick-up behaviours at 20 primary schools in Ipoh. It found 32% were involved in dangerous behaviour.

Most common was pupils leaving or entering vehicles on the side of traffic flow (27%), dropped off or picked up at the opposite side of the road unaccompanied (25%), and double parking (23%). Other hazardous behaviour included vehicles not following traffic rules (11%), waiting vehicles blocking the crossing (8%), drop-off/pick-up in the middle of the road (4%), and vehicles blocking vision or distracted driving (2%).

The evidence suggests that one in three pupils is routinely involved in dangerous drop-off or pick-up behaviour. Pupils should not be exposed to such risks. Young children are not able to manage the traffic environment as well as adults; they can easily fail to adjust for car/motorbike speeds or make errors when crossing roads.

Hence training them is not the best solution. While we need to educate pupils on road safety, what is required is environmental change.

We urge the Ministry of Education and schools to work with the Road Transport Department and parents to transform the safety profile and built-up environment of all schools.

Schools should have:
» A formal drop-off area.
» Bus stops.
» Adequate traffic calming measures (speed bumps, speed limit signs, traffic wardens)

These are the minimum safety measures and must be backed by the law and enforcement. There should be stricter penalties for violating traffic rules near schools.

Schools must be located away from busy roads and remain in green lungs.

We need to re-evaluate the need to send children to school in private vehicles. An effective school bus system would make safety and traffic management simpler.

Datuk Dr Amar-Singh HSS (consultant paediatrician)
Dr Teoh Yen-Lin (paediatrician)
Dr Lim Voon-Lee (paediatrician)
Lim Wei-Yin (research pharmacist)
Clinical Research Centre Perak