Road safety is a hugely important topic for parents and their young children. Once your little darling starts to take his first steps outside the home, you suddenly realize what a dangerous place the world can be. Toddling along the pavement without any realization of the perils of the road, he has no conception that an accident is only a few steps away.
According to official figures, 1512 children aged 0-15 years were seriously injured or killed as pedestrians in road accidents in the UK in 2019. These are disturbing statistics, notwithstanding the ‘silver lining’ of a compensation claim. “If your child has been injured in a road traffic accident, on holiday, or at the shops because of the negligence of others, you may be able to claim financial compensation on their behalf,” explains a leading personal injury expert. As any parent will agree, it is infinitely better not to have to go there.
Of course, the best way to prevent child accidents from occurring in the first place is by taking responsibility for teaching your littles ones road safety. Nurseries and schools have their part to play, but as parents, it is essentially up to us to ensure that our children are aware of roadside dangers, while instilling behavior that may just save a life.
While it is generally accepted that children under the age of 9 years lack road sense – the hearing, peripheral vision and traffic judgement capability needed to deal safely with roads on their own – you can’t start teaching them about road safety soon enough. Here are 9 valuable tips to help you get started.
- Never take your eyes off your toddler while walking along the pavement or near the roadside.
- Ensure that your child always walks on the inside of the pavement, furthest away from the road.
- Consider using a harness if your toddler has a habit of running off, for their own protection.
- Make sure you hold your child’s hand whenever you cross the road; do not let them cross on their own.
- Teach your child the difference between a pavement and a road, explaining that pavements are for people, roads are for cars.
- Instill in your child the authority of the word STOP as a non-negotiable command. This can stop them from stepping out onto a busy road.
- Introduce zebra crossings and traffic lights as the only place to cross the road, and practice and reinforce this every time you are out and about.
- Lead by example and practice what you preach. Children copy their parents, so don’t be tempted to cross the road unsafely just because you can.
- Put up a sticker chart at home to reward good roadside behavior each time you come back from a walk.=
School children will learn about the Green Cross Code, a national campaign that has been widely promoted since the 1970s to raise awareness of pedestrian road safety in the UK. Parents will no doubt remember their own childhood learning of the steps Think – Stop – Look – Listen – Wait – Look Again – Cross Safely. Why not pass on some essential life skills, making it a game to teach your own kids about the Green Cross Code? There’s even a song you can sing together to reinforce the message:
Finally, it is important to remember your own responsibilities as an adult road user. When you are behind the wheel of a car, do you always drive legally, observing the speed limit? Speed is a key factor that determines the outcome of a road traffic accident. If a child is struck by a car going at 30mph, it has an 80% chance of surviving. If the car is traveling faster than 30mph, there’s an 80% chance that they won’t.
Every child is someone’s son or daughter, and it is up to all of us to behave in the most responsible way possible to keep our children safe on the roads.