Keep kids safe
Children will be safer around our roads when we set only the best examples for them.
You look at children and think that they really are like mini-adults at times.
They adopt our habits, mimic our actions and even – alas – copy our language. But while you may think that the kids are an image of ourselves, they do lack our experience of the world. And one area where they can benefit from our vast experience – many times each day – is staying safe on and near our roads and transport. After all, road trauma is the leading cause of accidental death for Australian children.
Anne Hughes knows all about it. She’s an educator with RACV’s Street Scene program, and each year she visits more than 100 primary schools to talk to students about being better, safer pedestrians, passengers and cyclists. Here are Anne’s top 10 tips.
1. Start the conversation
Talk with your children about what they can do and what you can do together to stay safe on the roads. Every journey is a learning experience, so keep communicating about the things they need to do when you’re out and about.
2. Display positive road safety behaviours
Children learn by watching what other people do. To help our kids stay safe, set a good example by modelling positive road safety behaviours. Use crossings if they’re in the vicinity and obey all pedestrian and traffic signs.
3. Keeping safe on wheels
Wearing an Australian-standard bicycle helmet, bright clothes and appropriate footwear, such as runners, will help keep children safe on wheels.
Helmets need to be fitted correctly and are important when using not just bicycles, but inline skates, skateboards and other wheeled toys.
4. Stop, look, listen and think
When walking near traffic, hold your child’s hand and choose a safe place to cross. Don’t forget to Stop, Look, Listen and Think.
STOP one step back from the kerb.
LOOK for approaching traffic in all directions.
LISTEN for approaching traffic.
THINK about whether it is safe to cross.
5. Public transport tips
When using public transport with children, show them how to travel safely. For example, wait behind the yellow line at the train platform, and never cross the road immediately in front of or behind a bus or tram.
6. Safe seatbelts
Get into the habit of putting on seatbelts before driving off.
And if you’re wondering when your child no longer needs to use a booster seat, note that children should remain in a booster until at least seven years of age and when the lap part of the seatbelt sits low over the pelvis (not the stomach) and the sash does not touch the face or neck.
Seatbelts provide the best protection to children who are taller than 145cm.
7. Use the safety door
Always get your children in and out of a car using the kerb-side door – this is safest because you are away from the traffic.
8. Watch out on driveways
We don’t think of small children as being in danger in such a familiar environment, but children are naturally inquisitive and can move surprisingly quickly.
They are particularly vulnerable when cars and other vehicles turn in or out of driveways across the footpath. Drivers should always check to ensure there are no children around their vehicle when reversing.
Even if driving forwards out of a driveway, pause before moving across the footpath, so that pedestrians – and also young children on bicycles – can see that you could be about to cross their path.
9. Travelling to school
School pick-up and drop-off is usually traffic chaos.
So think about walking with your child all or part of the way to and from school to reduce the amount of vehicle traffic around the school – it will probably be more enjoyable and healthy as well. Where possible cross at marked crossings.
10. Be a driving role model
Research has found positive relationships between parents’ driving styles and their children’s future driving habits.
Try to display non-risky, patient and non-aggressive driving styles when your children are passengers. This will help them develop good driving behaviours when they are older.
#SavekidsLives is the worldwide campaign for the third United Nations Global Road Safety Week (4-10 May, 2015) calling for action to save children’s lives on the roads around the world.
Sign the Child Declaration for Road Safety at www.savekidslives2015.org.
For more tips and advice about road safety for children, go to racv.com.au/childsafety.