Any road safety awareness campaign must consider how to get the message across to our youngest road users. The younger they learn, the more chance road safety basics will become second nature to them.
Children are very much at the heart of this year’s Road Safety Week during which Brake, the road safety charity, encourages us all to Drive Less, Live More. Unless a car journey is essential, we’re all asked this week to leave our vehicles at home and to choose alternative methods of transport instead.
It’s a heart-breaking fact that, medical causes aside, injuries arising from road crashes are the biggest cause of death and serious injury among children and young people. Congested roads full of drivers rushing about do not only present an injury risk to little ones – but there’s a fear factor among parents too. When the roads are so busy, parents can be reluctant to let their children walk or cycle to school, meaning roads during school run time become even busier.
So, if we all do our bit and ditch unnecessary car journeys, how can we go about teaching children about road safety?
Here are four ways that parents and teachers can help:
1. Safe travel routes – teachers could do a class travel survey to find out how children get to school. They could then introduce the idea of safer, alternative travel methods and ask children to mark them on a map of the local area.
2. Cycling or pedestrian training – many local authorities run established training courses aimed at teaching children to walk or cycle safely. They can advise teachers whether the area surrounding the school is safe enough to carry out the training.
3. Campaign for safer streets – children have the right to be able to use their local roads without fear of being injured and have as much right as anyone to campaign for less speed and safer driving. See Brake’s community campaign kit page for more advice.
4. Beep Beep! Days – aimed at children aged 2-7, Brake’s Beep Beep! Days are a great way for little ones to learn the basics of road safety through play. Last year, 27,000 children took place in 450 Beep Beep! Days throughout the UK – many wore their brightest clothes for the day, others learnt and sang road safety songs and some built an obstacle course in the classroom, equipped with a zebra crossing so they could practice crossing the road safely.
For more information about these – and many other ideas on teaching children about road safety – please refer to Brake’s teaching guide.
If we’re going to teach children from an early age that cars aren't the primary means of transport and encourage them lead healthy, active lives then we should all continue to follow the Drive Less, Live More theme long after Road Safety Week has concluded.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers are one of the UK’s leading personal injury law firms and have many years’ experience in road traffic accident claims.
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