Practice Makes Perfect
It’s never too soon to start making your child aware of the dangers of traffic without scaring them. Schools and nurseries will teach basic road safety as part of early years education, making it easier for parents to reinforce the rules.
Several government campaigns have been created through the years in response to increasing numbers of vehicles on the roads. Their mantra of ‘Stop, Look and Listen’ is as valid today as it was when it was introduced by the Green Cross Man in the 1970s.
Whenever possible, persuade children to use pelican, zebra or lollipop crossings by turning it into a game to wait at the kerb and count the number of cars that pass until the traffic stops. Before long, it’ll become habit for them to seek out safe places like this to cross.
A firm hand to hold will provide confidence for your child and reassurance for you until they can be trusted not to run out into the road. And when they are older, reminders to keep their eyes open when near the road might be met with a teenage grunt but won’t fall on completely deaf ears.
While it’s tempting to wrap your child up like an eskimo in cold weather, beware of making them so cosy that they can’t see or move properly. Your little Michelin Man might look warm and cute but a big hood or scarf could hinder their view when crossing the road. Loose belts or long coats could easily turn into hazards causing them to trip and fall into the path of a vehicle.
Don’t forget the feet! In icy or wet weather, shoes can turn into a pair of skates, making crossing the road more of a slippery affair than you would like. Get your child to choose a pair of sturdy shoes with good solid grips for the days when you fear that their route to school might be more of a rink than a road.
Children are all stars in their own way and if we could, we’d light them up like beacons in order to keep them visible to traffic. However, fashions (and the heavy weight of a battery to power the lights) prevent this, especially if they are an unruly teen.
Sneak reflective material onto the cuffs, collars the edges of a coat or schoolbag and persuade them that fluorescent clothing is on-trend so they can be fashionable and more easily seen. Neon reflective wristbands are an excellent way of encouraging youngsters to increase the visibility of their clothing without cramping their style.
On Their Bike
Most children will get the opportunity to attend a suitable cycling course at school, such as Bikeability. Until then, parks and cycle paths are great places for them to practice their bike skills safely before being let loose on quiet roads.
Cyclists should be equally as visible as pedestrians, kitted out with reflective clothing as well as bike lights and reflectors. And though children will complain and complain...and complain about it being uncomfortable and/or untrendy, make a cycle helmet a compulsory habit from a young age to prevent a revolt in later years.
Teach your children how to check tyres are properly inflated and brakes are working correctly and when the time comes, your children will be able to pass on these and all their other road safety skills to their children and their children’s children, leaving you satisfied with a job well done.