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Advice on Teaching Children About Road Safety

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 19 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Advice On Teaching Children About Road Safety

Road safety groups are worried that the number of road traffic accidents involving children are on the increase - and every parent dreads hearing that their child has been knocked down and injured by a car. So what can you do to reduce the chance of it happening to one of your kids?

So many accidents happen because a child doesn’t understand the dangers of the road and runs out in front of a car, leaving the driver little or no time to react and avoid an accident. As a parent it's imperative that you teach your children to understand just how important it is to be road aware and how dangerous vehicles can be.

Child Road Deaths Increase

In 2007 the government reported 169 children had been killed on UK roads in the previous 12 months. 71 of these deaths were child pedestrians - an increase of 13% on the previous year, and the number of children killed while cycling rose by a staggering 55% over the same period*

Children of all ages are at danger on the roads, but those under 9 years old are particularly at risk because they find it hard to deal with traffic and are small in stature, so they can't see over parked cars to see what's coming very well and drivers find them hard to spot. Young children are also at a disadvantage because they can’t accurately judge how far away cars are, nor how fast they are travelling.

Under 5’s:

  • Talk your child through crossing the road, leading by example. Your child will copy you - bear this in mind whenever your child is with you - if you dash across the road with seconds to spare, they'll think it's ok to do that too.
  • Always make sure that you walk in between your child and the road, and hold their hand whenever you are near cars.
  • Make sure your child understands not to play near parked cars or in dangerous areas where there are moving vehicles.
  • Always get your child out of the car away from traffic - at the side of the kerb.

5-9 years old

Now that your child is a little older, you can start to instill in them the importance of good road sense, and let them start to understand the reasons why they need to be so careful.

  • When you are together, talk about road signs and traffic lights and what they mean. Ask them to choose a safe place to cross and tell you the reasons why they think it is safe.
  • Following on from the point above, explain to your child any reasons why their chosen safe place isn't actually safe - and encourage them to try again.
  • Only allow your child to ride his/her bike away from roads and with supervision. Also ensure that they wear a safety approved helmet when riding.
  • Encourage your child to put on their seat belts or get into their car seat unprompted.
  • Teach them to 'Stop, Look, Listen and Think'. Stop when they reach the kerbside, look both ways, listen for any oncoming vehicles and think - deciding whether or not they are safe to cross the road. Start off with very quiet, smaller roads, then build up so that they are not overwhelmed or distracted.

10-14 years old

When children reach double figures, they are usually quite adept at coping with traffic, but you should still do what you can to ensure that they are as safe as can be.

  • You should watch and listen to make sure that your child does 'stop, look, listen and think' when they are crossing a road. The older they are, the less likely they'll be saying it out loud - but you can make sure that they are still following the safety principles.
  • Try to educate your child with some basic road laws - directions, roundabouts, give ways, anything that might help them understand where traffic may be flowing to and from can be helpful.
  • Encourage your child to take the safest route to and from school. Make sure that they know to cross at a pedestrian crossing whenever possible, even if it makes their journey a little longer.
  • Make sure they don’t become complacent and don’t bother checking the road before crossing.
  • Explain the importance of wearing bright colours and reflectors to your child and make sure that they wear the appropriate safety helmet when riding a bicycle.
  • Make sure they buckle up when in a car and understand the importance of road safety both as a pedestrian and as a passenger.

The most important thing you can do to avoid your child getting hurt is to encourage them to respect the road, and follow the ‘stop, look, listen and think’ principle. This should help keep them safe when crossing the road, and give them enough time to spot any potential dangers.

*Source: Department for Transport, Road Casualties, Great Britain 2005-2007

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