Across the United Kingdom, around 5,000 children under 16 are involved in fatal to deadly road accidents each year, and with the advancement in age and independence, the risk significantly increases. In terms of sex, boys are involved in more road accidents than girls because of the nature of their play, which is mostly centred outdoors. Most accidents involving children happen during school holidays and on summer vacations when children are out of school and most likely seen playing outside.
It is for this reason that at an early age, children should already be taught the importance of road safety and the consequences of not following the traffic rules. It is the parents and the education system that both have this responsibility of educating the children on these matters.
At this age, the child is still getting to know the world he lives in and is getting introduced to a lot of novel things. They look up to adults and emulate their actions. Promote safety by being a good example of a law abiding citizen and by keeping your child with you at all times. Look for the safer places to walk to even if it takes longer. That way, the child will have more time experiencing the world around him.
Introducing road safety to a child this age is important since this will be his first experience in abiding by the law. Point out different vehicles in the street and traffic signs and the road markings, but don’t expound on them yet since the child won’t be able to understand you yet.
Start building up your child’s vocabulary in terms of distances and speed. Ask him to point out which of the different vehicles are faster and slower, or which ones are bigger and smaller.
Children this age will have learned some basic road safety rules in school. When taking him out for a walk, let him decide for you where and when you are to walk and stop. As you go along your way, reiterate these concepts and supply further information regarding them. Continue to expand his vocabulary on different vehicles and add the names and functions of the basic traffic signs.
When taking your child on a biking errand, try investing on a side-car for your bicycle or just let him sit with you. Make sure that he also has his protective gear on and he knows what they are for. Explain to him that different kinds of vehicles take different lanes on the road and let him classify the vehicles into which lanes they belong.
By this time, teenagers are knowledgeable on the basic traffic rules and regulations, and have now started to go out (walking or driving) on their own. Reiterate the important points in road safety, such as when to go and stop, not listening to music and refraining from going outside when drunk. Remind them also to contact you once they have reached their destination. It’s okay to worry about their safety, but it is also important to trust in their ability to take care of themselves.