More children than ever are travelling by car, which gives them little opportunity to develop their road sense. Before you trust your child to cross a busy road safely, it’s essential to teach them some basic road safety skills.
Why not encourage your child to ‘practice’ crossing the road with you before they go out on their own. Let them decide where and when it is safe to cross and ask them to explain how they reached their decision.
Basic road safety
There are some basic road safety tips that all children should know:
- wear something visible (bright clothes or a reflective band)
- stop before attempting to cross the road
- stand with toes behind the kerb (never on the kerb)
- look right first, then left and right again, crossing only when it is safe to do so (and remembering traffic conditions can change quickly)
- keep ears open for oncoming traffic (now is not the time to be listening to music)
- cross the road in a straight line – this will get you to the other side in the fastest possible time
- always walk, never run and keep looking right and left until you reach the other side.
Finding a safe place to cross
Too many road accidents happen because the driver simply did not see the child until it was too late.
Some places are safer to cross than others. Common things to avoid are:
- standing between parked cars (where drivers might not see you)
- crossing on a bend, corner or any other junction
- standing near an obstruction, e.g. road works.
The important thing is to find a place where the child has an unobstructed view of the oncoming traffic from all directions. If their view is obstructed, they should look for somewhere safer to cross.
When there is no safe place to cross
If your child has no option but to cross a busy road with parked cars and poor visibility, they can reduce the risk to their safety by taking extra precautions. Junctions can be especially dangerous for children because there is traffic coming from several directions.
When crossing between parked cars
- look for a small gap (ideally too small for a car to attempt to park in)
- make sure the cars either side are not moving by keeping an eye on the lights, the driver, the exhaust (for fumes) and listening out for the engine
- move out from between the parked cars slowly, making sure to look right first as this is where cars will be passing closer
- take a BIG step back if something is coming and wait until it has passed before checking the road again
- keep looking and listening as you cross the road.
When crossing at a junction
- choose a place to cross where you can see the traffic travelling along every road
- look over your right shoulder and, moving leftwards, check each road in a circular movement until you have completed a full circle of all the roads entering the junction
- if traffic is emerging from any of the roads, wait for it to pass and start your circular check again.
Safe routes to schools
Many schools are now encouraging children to walk and cycle to school. Find out if there is an established safe route to keep children away from busy roads in your area.