As soon as family begins walking and riding together around the neighbourhood, road safety becomes an essential part of the family routine. Before families take the bikes out, it is time for important conversations. No matter the age, children will appreciate the serious tone and nature of the conversation.
Begin with simple questions like:
- Why is important to watch out for cars?
- Should you run onto the road?
- How do you watch and listen for cars?
Reinforce these questions throughout the walk or ride. Positive reinforcement of the expectations are much more successful than continually negative comments about a child’s actions. Allowing a child to take the lead by being the one who checks the road for cars is a lovely way to reinforce a child’s maturity.
In NSW the greatest risk in the 0-4 year age group is being a passenger in a car. In the period 2010-2012, 81% of causalities were passengers. Also, a major concern is that 18% of causalities were pedestrians, with just 1% riding a bike.
Be a role model!
Really stress your own behaviour; show a child how to look and listen. Making a game of it (such as who can see the most cars? Who can see the most yellow cars? Who has the best hearing?) is a great way to help children to be involved.
Positive routines with good behaviour around cars can be as simple as wearing a seat belt and how you act around the road. The message of keeping your senses to be safe is a simple one for younger children. Watching and listening for cars is the first step for parents and early childhood educators. The inclusion of visual cues around classrooms and playgrounds, as well as for adults is a great way to reinforce road safety. Taking time out to walk as groups across the road, or to observe traffic can enhance road safety.
As children grow, knowing the road signs is a good way to increase a child’s awareness of the actions of cards. As children learn more shapes, it is easy to use road signs as examples, and emphasising when children see this they should be looking and listening for cards.
Increasingly there is media attention on children being left in cars, no matter the weather. Many centres and schools have prominent visual reminders for parents. Also, being a positive pedestrian is vital. Using crossings, waiting for green lights and using footpaths is all apartt of a road safe family.
We highly recommend the Kids and Traffic is the NSW Early Childhood Road Safety Education Program. It forms part of the statewide road safety education program of Transport for NSW’s Centre for Road Safety. A full range of resources is available here: http://www.kidsandtraffic.mq.edu.au/