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How to teach children road safety

Children crossing the road
Making sure your child learns all about road safety from a young age is key to preventing accidents later on in life. Follow these tips on ways you can help your little ones learn the basics of staying safe on the road.

Road safety campaigns have helped reduce child road deaths by 90% since records began in 1979 but six children die and 170 more are seriously injured every month on the UK’s roads and there is a peak in child fatalities and injuries in September and October, the months when kids get used to their new route to school.

Whatever your child's age, road safety is one of the most important lessons they'll learn.

Road safety for pre-schoolers: hand holding

First and foremost for pre-schoolers is an understanding of the vital importance of always holding a grown-up’s hand.

Reinforce this message 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 with a split pin. You could decorate them with felt-tipped pens to look like two styles of gloves. Organise other members of the family, including grandparents, to make ‘hands in hands’ with your child, too.

The Green Cross Code

With young children, focus on the core steps:

  • Find a safe place to cross
  • Stop at the kerb
  • Look right
  • Look left
  • Look  right again
  • If the road is clear, cross – don’t run!
  • Keep looking and listening for traffic as you cross.

Road safety for primary-schoolers: The Stop! strategy

A third of all children hurt crossing the road said they didn’t stop before stepping off the kerb, and as many said they didn’t look. Children love ‘teaching’ teddies and dolls, so get them to do so. Lay a skipping rope on the floor as the ‘kerb’, and quickly transform a doll or teddy into a string puppet by tying a piece of string to each arm and tying the other end to a small ruler. Just listen to your child instructing their ‘puppet’ to ‘stop at the kerb’, which will drum the message in for them.

Sing about safety

A simple but effective way to get children to take ownership of safety messages is to encourage them to make up their own songs – just a repeated refrain and a nursery rhyme tune will do. Try ‘Hold my hand’ to the tune of ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ – repetitive, but it works!

DriveSafe & StaySafe run an annual competition for children to write the rap lyrics and/or music to a catchy song to promote road safety; the songs feature road safety characters called The Conies to help kids learn to use the roads safely.

Road safety digital games

Brake, the road safety charity, has produced two free interactive resources to help children to think about how our streets can be made safer by buckling up and concentrating on the road.

Virtual Road World is an app for kids aged 6-8 and challenges children to complete a series of quests by moving through a city, crossing roads and collecting bonus stars if they select the safest route.

Brake also offers lots of free resources to help teachers and parents teach kids about road safety.

The THINK! child road safety campaign features more than 50 free resources for parents, teachers and schools.

The future of road safety: augmented reality

Augmented Reality (AR) road safety teaching resources and research for schools will bring the green cross code into the 21st century from September 2019. Road Safety GB have used Department for Transport funding to develop a world-first safety app, Arility, that allows pupils to run through road safety scenarios in lessons, helping them to improve their road safety knowledge and skills. Arility will test children on a range of common safety scenarios like how to use a pedestrian crossing, how to retrieve a ball from the road and how to cross the road with a bike.

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