As a parent or carer, there's a lot you can do to help teach your child lifelong pedestrian safety tips. From practising the Green Cross Code on your shared walks, to helping them assess risks and judge speed. Your good habits will quickly become their good habits, and these will be essential when getting ready for walking to school or getting used to a new route.
The Child Accident Prevention Trust has shared the below tips to help keep your child safe on their journey:
Lead by example on road safety
Children will copy what you do, so try to avoid stepping into the road without making it obvious you’re checking it’s safe to cross first.
Introducing younger children to pedestrian safety
Younger children need lots of hand-holding and supervision – the street can be a distracting place for them to be, with lots of sights and sounds.
Encourage young children to get into the habit of holding your hand or you can use walking reins if you want added security.
You can reinforce this message of holding hands by making ‘hand in hands’. Together draw round your hands on card and cut them out. Put your child’s ‘hand’ on top of yours and attach them at the top. You could decorate them too.
Ask questions while you’re out walking near roads to help them understand simple ideas like ‘fast’ and ‘slow’.
Learning the Green Cross Code
Start teaching children the Green Cross Code from age five, encouraging them to stop, look, listen and think before crossing the road.
Focus on the core steps of crossing the road safely:
- Think! First find the safest place to cross.
- Stop! Stand on the pavement near the kerb.
- Look and listen! Look all around for traffic and listen.
- Wait! Until it’s safe to cross. If traffic is coming, let it pass.
- Look and listen again! …
- Arrive alive!
Younger children won’t always remember road safety rules, especially if they’re distracted. Keep practising and remain patient.
Helping older children to “think road safety”
Accidents peak around age 12 when children are starting to make independent journeys, such as walking to school alone.
More than half of serious accidents happen between 3pm and 7pm, coinciding with after-school hours.
Before a child walks to school alone for the first time, encourage them to sit down and plan their route to school. They can map out what route to take and talk you through it. They can think about which friends they might travel with too.
You can help build their confidence by practising the route together or starting with easier routes and building up to the school route.
Focus less on instructing them on the rules of the road and more on listening and asking questions to encourage them to think for themselves:
- Where are the safe places to cross the road?
- What should they do if they see their bus and they’re on the other side of the road?
Devices are a major distraction, so talk to your child about putting them away and having earphones out or off while crossing the road.
Be bright, be seen
Visibility is a key issue all year round, all day round. Remember:
- Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective clothing or accessories after dark
- Always choose routes and cross at places that are well-lit
- Where possible, cross the road at a pedestrian crossing
- Remind older children who travel by themselves about road safety and the additional hazards in autumn/winter
- Devices can be a major distraction, so encourage your child to put them away and take any headphones out while crossing the road
Learn more about road safety
Download the Child Accident Prevention Trust road safety fact sheet.
Visit the Child Accident Prevention Trust road safety hub to download activity sheets for children.
Explore road safety teaching resources for children from the Think! campaign run by the Department for Transport.
This post has been adapted from the 'Teaching children pedestrian safety' article published by the Child Accident Prevention Trust.