Road safety officers and gardaí are now warning that abuse and intimidation of school traffic wardens will not be tolerated when pupils return to school in a fortnight.
The move follows Garda intervention after a school traffic warden in Co Louth was abused earlier this year.
Gardaí had to issue an official letter to parents of pupils of St Brigid’s National School, Drogheda, as a result of parents driving carelessly, parking dangerously, and a small number who had been verbally abusing the local traffic warden.
A number of random Garda checks at the school were carried out in a bid to stamp out the behaviour.
A road safety officer yesterday confirmed that colleagues and school principals across the country were horrified by the number of motorists who ignored the school traffic warden, with some even driving past, pretending not to see her in the middle of the road.
There are now more than 400 school traffic warden working across the country — all attempting to ensure that children get to and from school safely.
Noel Gibbons, road safety officer with Mayo County Council, said many drivers ignore the warden’s ‘Stop’ sign even though they are legally obliged to do so.
The wardens, like gardaí, have the legal power to stop traffic. Drivers who fail to stop for school traffic warden could face a €120 fine, four penalty points, and disqualification.
Other common problems include driving around a school traffic warden while they are on the road; revving engines or sounding horns while the warden and children are crossing; driving very close to the warden; and swearing and using threatening language.
“Many drivers are blatantly ignoring the ‘Stop’ sign because they are frustrated over traffic hold-ups,” said Mr Gibbons, who described the practice as ‘lollipop bashing’. “They are now taking it out on the school wardens. This is very dangerous and a big problem.