Friday, October 02, 2009

Road Safety for Children

Altogether I have seven grandchildren and one of my delights has been to instruct them in modes of conduct. Of late I have been closely involved with three of them who happen to be triplets aged two-and-a-half. It has been my privilege to teach them habits that may remain with them for a lifetime.

Of prime importance is instruction in road safety. As small children walk along pavements adjacent to roads there is a high element of danger, because impulsively they may be tempted to stray onto the road without realizing they could be killed or severely injured. How do you get the message across that they should never walk on the road, except when crossing it through necessity? Firstly, they have to learn the vocabulary of all things relating to roads and pavements before they can properly be shown how to take precautions for their own safety. To that end I have taught them to be watchful for cars, buses, lorries, motorcycles, and cycles. As we walk the pavements together I ask them to tell me what vehicles they can see. It’s like a little game, because they delight in pointing them out, including their colours, and if they are large or small. A lorry is always a ‘big’ lorry, whereas a single-decker bus is a bus, and a double-decker bus is a ‘big’ bus. When it comes to crossing a road, the drill is always the same. Stop! Look! Listen! And I ask them, “Is there anything coming?” After looking right, then left and right again, if it’s safe to cross the road, while continuing to look and listen, we do so. They have learned the correct drill at a Pelican Crossing. Firstly they stand by the kerb while one of them pushes the button to activate the ‘Green Man’; when they see him light up and they hear the high-pitched bleeps they check if it’s safe to cross, and if all is OK they purposefully walk across the road. They know that if the ‘Red Man’ is illuminated they must not cross the road.

They will never be allowed to walk pavements on their own until it is judged safe to do so by their parents who have the ultimate responsibility, but learning road safety at an early age bodes well for them.

All of the above is in line with what is taught by the ‘Green Cross Code’:
• Find a safe place to cross, then stop
• Stand on the pavement near the kerb
• Look all around for traffic and listen
• If traffic is coming, let it pass – look all around again
• When there is no traffic near, walk straight across the road

The Government’s ‘THINK!’ campaign web site states that in 2007 there were on average 37 children under the age of 17 killed or seriously injured on our roads every week! The aim is to half this number by 2010. I sincerely hope this will be the case, and especially hope that the instructions for road safety I have given to my grandchildren will be remembered and practised by them.

The Green Cross Code web site:
Green Cross Code Video Clips:
THINK! Campaign web site:

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