Children need assistance dealing with the traffic environment until at least the age of 10 as they are not equipped physically or developmentally to make the crucial decisions to keep them safe. Like learning to drive a car, children need practise and experience to walk in the traffic environment.
Alongside the benefits of learning road safety, it is great chance to spend time with your family and good exercise!!
Children are vulnerable road users. Anywhere where there is a potential for moving vehicles is a potentially dangerous traffic situation for children. This includes residential areas, car-parks, at traffic lights, along footpaths, zebra and other crossings, driveways, quiet streets, and busy streets.
Although children may think they can handle crossing a road by themselves, remember that children:
- are easily distracted and focus on only one aspect of what is happening
- are smaller and harder for drivers to see
- are less predictable than other pedestrians
- cannot accurately judge the speed and distance of moving vehicles
- cannot accurately predict the direction sounds are coming from
- are unable to cope with sudden changes in traffic conditions
- do not understand abstract ideas - such as road safety
- are unable to identify safe places to cross the road
- tend to act inconsistently in and around traffic
Many children below the age of 10 years do not have the capability or judgement to handle many pedestrian situations. Children need to be accompanied and closely supervised by a parent or adult carer to keep them safer.
Parents and caregivers have a key role in educating their children about road safety. Children learn about road safety largely by experience. Parents and adult carers have opportunities in day-to-day routines to discuss road safety with children on the way to the newsagent, local shop or going to school. Whenever crossing roads, it is an idea to talk about when and why it is safe to cross the road with your children so they can gain a good understanding of road safety issues.
You can find other information about child pedestrian safety at the following websites:
- Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA)
- Early Childhood Road Safety Education Program (ECRSEP)
- NRMA Member Services
Road Safety Officers - located in most local councils in NSW, road safety officers are also a great source of information. Contact your local council for details.
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