Children need to learn to use the roads safely, to walk and cycle in safety, and also to use their common sense when crossing a road or getting into a car. Road safety is essential for children’s freedom, development and exercise, and of course the roads need to be used with respect. Road safety should be taught by example and guidance with a trusted adult from an early age.
The Government have ambitious targets to reduce the number of children who die or are injured by 50% but parents and child carers have a duty to inform, educate and train children and to maximize child safety on our roads.
The key stages of road safety education
Babies and very young children – parents should take the given advice seriously ensuring they follow the Government and authority guidelines on safety, whether for car safety or road safety.
Primary age children – Children should taught pedestrian safety and attend cycle training courses to learn the risks of cycling on difficult road and in difficult traffic conditions.
Older children – Need to take seriously the road safety taught by parents and from schools as they travel longer journeys on their own.
Primary age children
Basic road safety is in the PSE (Personal and Social Education) curriculum and more is being done to increase the time spent on teaching road safety in schools. However the best training for children is practical pedestrian training at the roadside, which can be provided by adults. Arrive Safe is a road safety programme by Social For Action.
This group are at further risk because of the longer journeys to and from school with friends and often on their own. In school, children are taught to recognise and manage risk and make safer choices about healthy lifestyles, different environments and travel.
How can you help your child to keep safe on the way to school?
Walk directly to school
Ensure that your child understands the importance of walking directly to school, without stops or diversions. Be aware of traffic safety. Take care to tell your child to walk on the pavement, wherever possible.
Walk with others
Encourage your child to walk to school with a friend who lives nearby.
Find a walking bus
If you are worried about the prospect of your child walking to school alone, find out whether a walking school bus operates in your area. If one does not already exist, consider setting one up.
Buy reflective yellow clothing or accessories for your child to ensure that they are visible to vehicles. This is particularly important if your child is likely to be walking very early in the morning or in the afternoon in winter months, when light levels are lower.
Explain to your child the importance of ‘having your wits about you’ whilst walking to be aware of their environment.
Children should go on properly run courses that last a number of weeks. The course should include practical on-road cycling under supervision so the real world is experienced. In many areas the local Road Safety Organisation will work with the school to provide a safe cycling course.
Children should be persuaded to wear a cycle helmet at all times.