Road safety for kids

It’s Road Safety Week! There is nothing more important than road safety, and whether you are a driver, a cyclist or a pedestrian, road safety is imperative.

One of the things that is often overlooked when talking about road safety is child road safety. We talk about keeping safe as a driver, or a cyclist, but it is rare that we look at how to keep you and your child safe whilst walking along a path and when crossing the road.

We want to change that. So in this article, we are going to look at some top tips for keeping your child safe when it comes to being a pedestrian, and how to teach them some tips about road safety.

Road safety tips for you and your child

Here are some of our top tips for keeping you and your child safe while pedestrians.

When you are walking along the pavement

While this seems like the safest thing to do when it comes to roads, you can still ensure that you and your child are as safe as possible when walking along the road.

Hold your child’s hand

As much as kids may hate it, holding their hand is the best way to ensure they are safe walking along a pavement. We also recommend you walking on the outside of the pavement and your child walking on the inside of the pavement, away from the traffic, if you do this a few times it becomes habit.

Consider reins

If you have toddlers, consider reins for your child while you are walking along busy roads. If not, strap them in a pushchair.

Be aware of hidden entrances

Look out for hidden entrances and driveways, and encourage your child to do the same. It can be difficult for motorists to see youngsters, particularly if they are reversing, so be careful when walking along roads with driveways that go onto the path.

Generally, children aren’t ready to cross the road on their own until they are eight years old at the youngest. Even then, they may still not be ready. However, if you encourage them to look out for cars, and make them aware of the dangers of not looking out for cars then this will help them when the time comes.

When you are crossing the road

Crossing the road is the most dangerous thing you can do while a pedestrian. But of course, it doesn’t have to be dangerous. Teaching your kids how to cross the road safely from a young age will prevent any incidents later down the line. It should be noted here that if you have a pushchair and you are crossing the road to wait with the pushchair beside you, instead of poking out on the edge of the kerb or on the road in front of you park your pushchair next to you to avoid any incidents.

Set a good example

As we get older, we get slightly more relaxed about road safety, you only have to walk in London for five minutes to realise that. However, when you have a child with you, you must set a good example. Choose a safe place to cross and explain why. When possible, always cross at a pedestrian crossing and always wait for the green man. It can be tempting to cross when the light goes amber, but your child will have to learn to wait for the green man to tell them it is safe to cross.

Tell them where not to cross

This includes in-between cars where they may not be seen, on corners or where they cannot see far along the road.

Ask them where to cross the road

Once they are slightly older, ask your child where the best place to cross the road is.

This will give them a chance to think about road safety and, by the time they are old enough to cross they should be in the habit of searching for the best place to cross and when to cross at the right time. This will also make them more conscious of their environment and their surroundings.

Use the Green Cross Code

Remember the dancing, singing hedgehogs that taught you to stop, look and go? If not, we have provided a video below. We guarantee you will be singing the song for the rest of the day.

Anyway, teach your child the Green Cross Code. Go through it with them before you cross a road. If you need reminding, here is the Green Cross Code:

  • Find the safest place to cross
    • This includes subways, footbridges, islands, zebra crossings or where there is a crossing point controlled by a police officer or a patrol officer.
  • Stop just before you get to the kerb
  • Don’t get too close to the traffic
  • Look for traffic and listen
  • If traffic is coming, let it pass
  • When it is safe to cross, go straight across the road and do not run

Make sure everyone else that looks after your child also practices road safety

If you have older children that often look after the younger ones, babysitters or family members that watch your children, make sure they are following the same road safety rules that you do.

This stops children from being confused about what is right and what isn’t. Also, if they are young adults, such as an older cousin, then children often idolise that young adult. Therefore, they are prone to copying them and this could happen when it comes to road safety. If your child sees their older cousin or their older neighbour being irresponsible when it comes to road safety then they could copy this.

When you are at a pedestrian crossing

While pedestrian crossings are extremely safe, they are not 100% safe and can be dangerous if you do not take care.

Teach your child to wait until it is clear in both directions

Some people cross one side of the road then stand in the middle of the road until the other side is safe. You don’t need us to tell you this is irresponsible, and it’s important that your child knows not to cross until it is safe to do so on both sides of the road.

You should also teach them to look and listen while crossing just in case a driver has not seen them.

You should remind them to look out for cyclists and motorcyclists, they can come up quickly and it can be easy for both cyclist and pedestrian to miss each other.

Treat an island differently

Islands are very handy on busy roads where there is not a safe place to cross. Teach your child to treat an island crossing like two separate crossings, and that they will have to look and listen twice in order to get over the road safely.

Always use a zebra or a light-controlled crossing if possible, and encourage your child to do so.

Invest in some bright clothing

As the evenings get darker, it will be more likely that you are walking along the road with your child when it is dark. Therefore, it might be worth investing in some reflective clothing for your child when you are walking in the dark. This alerts drivers that you and your child are there.

Fluorescent clothing will help during the day, such as fluorescent vests. There are quite a few schools that have these now for children walking along the road on school trips. If not, you could recommend this to your child’s school to ensure that your child is safe when out with the school.

Safety tips for kids in the car

It’s one thing keeping your kids safe while you are out of the car, as pedestrians, it’s another thing ensuring they are safe while they are in the car.

There are a few things that you can do to ensure that your child is safe when you are driving.

Make sure they are strapped in

This is an obvious one, but children don’t always do what they are told, especially when it comes to sitting still and being strapped in somewhere for a period of time. Ensuring they are strapped in properly is a huge aspect of making sure your child is safe. Lead by example, always make sure that you have your seatbelt on regardless of how long your journey is, even if you are popping round the corner and aren’t even going fast enough for the car to beep at you.

Make sure you are following the law regarding seatbelts, as you can get fined if you don’t.

Here is the law regarding seatbelts:

  • It is an offence to drive with a passenger under 14 years of age who are not wearing a seatbelt or child restraint in the front or back seat. A car seat counts as a child restraint.
  • Children should start using an adult seatbelt when they reach their 12th birthday or when they reach 135cm, whichever happens first.
  • All children must use a car seat or a booster seat designed for their current weight
  • If you are in a bus or a coach with seatbelts then those above the age of 14 must use them, those that are under are advised to use them.

You should also make sure that you are following the correct rules regarding car seats as well.

Here are a few tips to choosing the right car seat for your child;

  • Make sure you can see the United Nations ECE R44.04 mark
  • Check your vehicle’s handbook before you buy, not all seats and vehicles are compatible
  • Try before you buy, try fitting the carseat in your car to make sure it’s the right size and it fits properly
  • Make sure your child likes it
    • Involve them in the decision, let them choose the colour and the pattern. If they think it’s their seat and it’s the seat they want, they are less likely to kick up a fuss.

There are many ways you can keep yourself and your child as safe as pedestrians. Much of this comes from leading by example. It can be tempting when we are in a rush or out of patience to disregard best practice when it comes to road safety, but it is vital that your child sees you crossing the road safely and taking pedestrian safety seriously.

It is also important that everyone who looks after your child also follows these rules. Encouraging your child to choose where you should cross and getting them to explain why is also helpful as it sets them up for best practice when the time comes for them to crossover on their own. Remember, like the hedgehogs said; stop, look, then go.

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