Can kids use peripheral vision in traffic?

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Stop, look, listen, think

Have you ever wondered why it’s so important to keep reminding children to “Stop, Look, Listen, and Think” when crossing the street?

Part of the reason is because children don’t naturally use their peripheral vision (what they see out of the corner of their eyes) when approaching a road. As younger children don’t yet have the skills and experience to effectively utilise their full vision, and are slower than adults at identifying relevant objects in their peripheral vision, they need to be shown how to be safe in traffic.

Stop. Look. Listen. Think.

Although younger children may look before crossing, they don’t have a developed understanding that a car they can see may not be able to see them. For example, children may not recognise that it is difficult to be seen by a driver they can see from between two parked cars. What’s more, children don’t typically think to use sound to work out where traffic is coming from.

Repeatedly setting a good example around children will help them develop the knowledge and judgement skills they need to cope in traffic. As illustrated above, it is important to encourage children to stop at the kerb, look both ways, listen for traffic, and wait until it is clear and safe to cross.

Lead by example

While out walking always display safe behaviour around children, and help them make decisions about where to walk, and when to cross. Ask children what they think would be a safe thing to do, encourage them to explain their reasons, and look for opportunities to give positive feedback. Importantly, always reinforce that children need to Stop, Look, Listen and Think.

RACV School Road Safety Program

RACV helps teach children about road safety through the Street Scene program. Teachers trained in traffic safety education visit primary schools and teach children about pedestrian and road safety. Schools are encouraged to incorporate the skills learnt during the program into the curriculum. However, parents and caregivers play an influential role in their children’s behaviour. See the website for information and free resources.

Written by Georgia Baggio, RACV research and policy officer
September 05, 2017

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