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Importance of road safety

Young children are very vulnerable, especially out and about near traffic and are most certainly more at risk when it's dark

As parents, there is a great temptation to wrap young children up in cotton wool, take them away from all the risks, drive them to school, never let them go out in the dark, etc. However, it's not practical and it does not give children the opportunity to develop their own risk assessment skills, or become more independent as they grow older; plus it's important they are allowed to walk to get exercise and fresh air and not be driven everywhere!

So we need to help develop the tools they'll need to keep as safe as possible - give them the facts, show them the potential dangers and risks, explain ways of keeping safe, look at choices and consequences and build their understanding and skills.

Helping your child build these skills

  • Make sure you set a good example:
    • where you walk on the pavement
    • where and how you cross the road
    • how you drive and treat other road users
    • wearing your seatbelt for every trip.
  • Talk with them about:
    • different types of vehicles
    • the speed of traffic compared to us humans
    • how the faster vehicles travel, the harder it is for them to stop quickly
    • that in a crash pedestrians come off worse and can be badly injured or even die
    • the importance of knowing the rules of the road and not to mess about near traffic - and never play near roads
    • wearing a high visibility safety reflector at night, when walking or cycling. These help young children to be seen more clearly by car drivers and other road users. To find out how to get Nationwide's Cats Eyes' for Kids reflector for your child click here.
  • When out and about think about, talk about and show them:
    • Safer crossing places:
      • Zebra
      • Pelican (Toucan and Puffin - light controlled)
      • Traffic Islands
      • Footbridges or Subways
    • Where to cross if there isn't any of the above:
      • away from parked cars
      • where they can see clearly and be seen
      • where there is a School Crossing Patroller, or Police Officer
    • Practice the Green Cross Code every time you cross:
      • find a safe place
      • stop at the kerb
      • look both ways for traffic
      • listen all around for traffic
      • if traffic is coming, let it pass
      • if it's clear or there is a safe gap in the traffic with plenty of time to cross, then walk straight across - don't run!
      • Keep looking and listening and thinking as you cross.
    • In the car make sure that:
      • all passengers wear a seatbelt or restraint (visit www.childcarseats.org.uk for the correct child seats and restraints for young children dependent on age and size)
      • that they get in and out of vehicles on the safer side (furthest away from the traffic)
      • that they don't distract the driver by being noisy or throwing things around or messing about. Explain that drivers need to concentrate on the road.
      • keep looking and listening and thinking as you cross.
    • Cycling: As your child gets older they'll probably want to go out and about on their bicycle. Make sure:
      • they are properly trained before going on the road
      • know the rules of the road and recognise road signs
      • that their bikes fit their size and age and work safely
        - check tyres, lights, chain, brakes and steering
      • that they wear a snugly fitted cycle helmet
      • that they may want to have knee and elbow pads for extra protection
      • that they use cycle routes wherever possible.
Help your child to be a safer road user.