When I was in Primary School, my mom had one simple rule when it came to road safety: Do not cross roads. Ever. As you can guess, this was impossible to abide by, and while I appreciate her good intentions as an adult, I found myself flagrantly flouting her singular instruction anyway.
While it is impossible for any parent to totally prevent their child from getting into a mishap on the road, educating them goes a long way in ensuring their safety. Here are 10 road safety rules every child needs to know.
1. Hold an adult’s hand when they cross the road
Young children under the age of six are tiny compared to adults, and this makes them unnoticeable to drivers who aren’t paying attention on the road. In order to keep them safe, adults should always teach their children to hold their hands before crossing.
2. If alone, raise their hand whilst crossing
Here’s another rule that helps with visibility. No need for bright neon vests or a bright sign that says “minor crossing.” Just use your hands (and head). Though, wearing bright or light colours at night would be advantageous for your child too.
3. Know what traffic light colours mean
As soon as your tot is able to distinguish colours, teach them that green means go, red means stop, and that the blinking green man means wait for the next green man to appear. This prevents them from sprinting across the road, which is highly dangerous.
4. Keep to the footpath
Whether your kiddo has dropped something on the road, is looking for a shortcut, or just has a bit of a daredevil streak, advise them to keep to the pavement. It is also good to show them where the bridges, underpasses and zebra crossings en route are.
5. Stop and look carefully
Small road with few cars? Stop and look. Crowded road with a traffic jam? Stop and look. Road crossing that’s so short your tiny kid could cross it in just a few steps? Stop. And. Look. Your little one needs to know that distance doesn’t matter, and that they need to look to their left and right before taking their first step.
6. Ensure drivers have stopped fully
There are many inattentive drivers on the road, so teach your child to ascertain that cars coming in their direction stop completely before they move to cross the street. It is also important for kiddo to know they should always wait for buses to stop fully before boarding or alighting.
7. Listen out for vehicle sounds
Children are often not able to gauge the proximity of incoming objects as well as adults can, whether by sight or sound. Train your toddler to listen out for honks, engines, and other vehicle noises, and to identify how far or near they think these sounds are.
8. Identify where they absolutely cannot cross
Your kiddo should know which areas on the road are not to be crossed under any circumstances. Just to start the ball rolling: Bends in the road should be avoided, simply because your child won’t be able to clock an incoming vehicle easily.
9. Stay safe within moving vehicles
It would be great to have a safety checklist for car decorum: When you get your little one in your car, do they have a child-restraint, are they child-locked, and are everyone’s safety belts on before you begin driving? It is also crucial that your child knows they should never play in a moving vehicle.
10. Full attention on the road
We’ve got one last rule, actually. Rule #11 is for parents – Set the standard. That could mean taking more time to drive them to school during peak hours, getting off your phone while on the road, and more. Your kids learn best from the adults around them, so while conveying the dos and don’ts of road safety is important, your habits are doubly impactful. Keep safe, mummies and daddies, and may your children always be out of harm’s way.