School holidays are a time for family and friends to focus on socialising, travel and time together - but their arrival also means maintaining greater vigilance when walking near, or driving on, Newcastle's busy roads.
That's the message that the City of Newcastle will be spreading this summer as part of a holiday road safety and awareness campaign targeted at holiday makers and the local community.
The It's Holiday Time
campaign is the brainchild of Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation CEO Michelle McLaughlin, who tragically lost her son Tom at age four to a roadside accident near Macmasters Beach on the Central Coast. Mrs McLaughlin now spends her days proactively partnering with organisations like City of Newcastle to prevent further tragedies from occurring on NSW roads.
"The It’s Holiday Time campaign incorporates brightly coloured billboard signage with simple messaging to instruct and remind drivers to slow down, and for children and families to remain alert and attentive," Mrs McLaughlin said.
"The boards are positioned in highly visible public spaces, such as beaches and parks, so that we can best maximise our road safety message.”
"Holiday destinations are most often a new and unfamiliar environment for children and their families, and it's important that parents have a conversation with their children and go through how they're expected to behave when they’re in this new environment."
These conversations are already well and truly being had around the family dinner table and in the school classroom of 11-year-old Alice Bradley, a year-five student at Mayfield West Demonstration School.
As part of her school's PDHPE curriculum, students at Mayfield West Demonstration School learn necessary skills, attitudes and behaviours needed to stay safe as pedestrians, passengers and wheelchair users.
"Holidays are always the best time of the year, but when they come around we need to take extra care when crossing roads and watching for cars," 11-year-old Alice said.
"These lessons teach us to be extra cautious and careful."
The City of Newcastle, as the responsible authority for governing the state of roads and footpaths in Newcastle, is making improvements to its existing infrastructure to help ensure safety is a priority for pedestrians and motorists.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said enhancements were continuously being made to roads and footpaths to help prevent tragedies and accidents from occurring.
"It's incumbent on us to ensure that we do everything we can to not only provide safe and suitable access points for pedestrians, but to also upgrade our roads for the benefit of motorists to help prevent further tragedies like the one experienced by Michelle and her family," Cr Nelmes said.
"We're improving existing pedestrian and road infrastructure by rolling out new raised pedestrian crossings - knowns as Wombat Crossings - at particular points of the City that experience high pedestrian and traffic volumes.
"Recent installations include Platt Street at Waratah, Joslin Street at Kotara and King Street, Newcastle West - all areas which are located close to schools, parks and public transport.
Cr Nelmes said while holidays are an important time to reinforce road safety messages, the City will continue to work year-round to ensure that roads and footpaths are maintained to an appropriate standard.
The It's Holiday Time signs will start appearing in public from today. To read more about Michelle's story, or the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation, visit http://www.littlebluedinosaur.org