April 21, 2020| |
HOW TO ENSURE ROAD SAFETY FOR CHILDREN – 8 ESSENTIAL TIPS
Road hazards involving children are highly prevalent around us: Every other day, we see a child get run over by a speeding car or motorcycle while attempting to cross the road, or while on her way from school. The only mitigating factor for this sort of risk involving children on using the road or commuting in a vehicle is through ensuring the following safety advice:
1. NEVER LET A CHILD CROSS THE ROAD ON THEIR OWN
This is arguably the most important rule for your child’s safety on the road. For no reason should your child be allowed to cross the road on their own, even if you have the impression that s/he is grown enough.
As smart as our kids may appear to us, activities like road crossing should be restricted to close monitoring. Even if your kid has to use the road in your absence, make sure to teach them to seek adult assistance when attempting to cross.
2. MAKE SURE THEY WALK ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD CLOSE TO THE PAVEMENT
When walking with kids, make sure to put them on the side of the road close to the pavement, while also facing oncoming traffic.
The side of the road close to the pavement is the safer side, which is why we should put them there to protect them from hazards. It is also best practice to walk towards oncoming traffic, rather than walking ahead of it. This is because, while your eyes are turned away from the road, it will be impossible to spot impending hazards on the road, like when a vehicle accidentally drifts towards our direction or a stray motorbike coming at us from behind. (Lagos road users are most familiar with this.)
3. NEVER LET THEM GO OUT ON THE ROAD ON THEIR OWN
This should have been number one, because there is no way our kids will get to cross the road on their own, if we don’t let them step out of the house unsupervised.
Kids under 7 should not be allowed to go out on the road on their own, so they don’t stray into road traffic. Due to their energetic and adventurous nature, kids like to follow their curiosity without forethought. These curiosities can lead them to danger more often than not.
4. ALWAYS SET A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR THEM TO FOLLOW
Because they are always passively learning, kids tend to pick up on everything they see us do as their parent, guardian, older sibling, or teacher.
In order to adequately inculcate good road safety habits in our kids, we need to be mindful of everything we do in their presence. It is in their best interest that we adhere to the best road safety ethics when they are with us: some of these ethics include using pedestrian crossings when and where they are provided, using seatbelts while driving, obeying traffics signs, etc.
When kids see us walking on the road and texting at the same time, they automatically think it’s cool for them to do so too. It has been established that this practice is dangerous because it takes our attention away from our environment.
It is, therefore, best advised that we inculcate the best safety ethics in our kids by doing what we expect them to do when we are not watching.
5. TEACH THEM TO USE PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS AND BRIDGES
An essential lesson to be taught to kids about road use is that they should use pedestrian crossings and bridges where they are provided whenever they attempt to cross the road.
A lot of people intentionally ignore the presence of these safety facilities on our roads, and prefer to cross an open road instead. This, therefore puts them in serious harm.
We need to make the kids realize the risks of crossing a busy road at points that are not designated for this purpose, so we can save them from possible hazards.
6. HELP THEM UNDERSTAND TRAFFIC SIGNS
Teaching road safety is not only the responsibility of the school teachers, but also parents or guardians, older siblings and relatives. You should always try to teach the child what common road safety signs mean as they come in contact with these signs.
As you drive by or take a walk with your kid, you will come across traffic signs in the process. Endeavour to explain what these signs mean to them as soon as they are at an age when they can start to process and understand information.
7. EXPLAIN ROAD HAZARDS TO THEM
Kids are smarter and more intelligent than we think, when they are at a very young age (say, 3 years old). I mentioned teaching them what different traffic signs mean in No.6 above; you should also periodically explain several possible hazards they may be faced with while using the road.
You should also tell them the possible causes of the hazards, how to stay away from them and what to do when faced with these hazards.
8. NEVER PUT THEM IN THE FRONT SEAT
The backseat of a car is safer for children in case of an accident. Airbags are hazardous to children, hence the advice against putting children in the front seat.
“In crashes, kids are propelled forward and get hit by airbags that are not fully inflated. Airbags inflate rapidly – in less than 1/20th of a second. And they move at speeds of up to 200 mph. The force is enough to kill, decapitate or cause severe head injuries.”
Children aged under 12 should be buckled in the middle of the back seat as this is the safest spot. Children under 4 feet 9 inches tall should ride in booster seats.