Terrifying isn’t it? That heart-in-mouth moment when your child races ahead of you on the pavement. They look like they are about to try and cross the road. You yell their name and: “Stop! Wait there!” in your best Sergeant Major voice… praying they don’t just dash out into the traffic.
Chances are your kid is a smart cookie who knows how to wait at the kerb, look and listen before they cross. And even better, they know to wait for you before they try to make it to the other side. But small people can be impulsive. Especially if they see a friend across the way or they’re excited about going to the playground.
There are more vehicles on the road than ever too, particularly at rush hour times when you are on your way to and from school.
So, what can we do as parents, guardians or relatives to help our little loved ones stay safe around roads? And what will help us feel calm and confident that our children know the drill, so we don’t have to shout or risk a heart attack several times a month?
Brake, the road safety charity, has been working since 1995 to make a difference across the UK. They’ve just coordinated their annual road safety week – aiming to inspire thousands of schools, organisations and communities to take action and promote life-saving messages during the week and beyond.
We thought we’d lend a helping hand too with our own top tips that will hopefully make crossing the road a calmer, safer and much more enjoyable experience – for your children and you.
Top tip 1: Do your homework together
It’s been a long time since ‘The Green Cross Code Man’ hit our screens in the seventies. In fact, these public awareness ‘adverts’ seem to be a thing of the past.
Instead, kids are often given information booklets at nursery or school. There are loads of books, videos and other interesting ways to learn about road safety on the internet too.
Take a peek at YouTube or resource sites like www.twinkl.co.uk for more ideas on how you can educate your kids before you even leave the house.
Top tip 2: Make it mindful
Do you chat with your child as you stroll along the pavement? Why not turn these conversations into ways to boost their awareness of everything around them?
Games like ‘I spy’ will help them really look at what’s going on instead of it all just being a blur as they walk by. Talk about the different cars, trucks and bikes on the road. How many red vehicles you can see on your journey? Can they name all the sounds they hear?
Anything that raises their awareness in a fun way will help them switch on, be alert and be safer.
Top tip 3: Slooooow down
Brake’s theme for this year’s road safety week was ‘No need to speed’. This goes for vehicles on the road – but we think it applies to pedestrians too.
We’re all guilty of rushing when our child has been faffing about instead of leaving the house on time. Socially-distanced slots for classes to enter school don’t help either as the pressure is on to get there on the dot.
If you find yourself belting down the street and taking short cuts across busy roads instead of using a crossing, please take a breath and slow down. Your child will learn from you and copy you. Make sure they know it’s better to be safe than rush, whatever the time is.
Top tip 4: Put them in charge
Instead of telling them what to do, why don’t you ask them to make sure you cross the road safely? Kids love to help and be in charge. They can be your special road safety champion.
It’s up to them. What do they think you should do? Can they hold your hand to help you? You know your child, what do you think will help them proudly take responsibility for themselves and everyone around them?
Top tip 5: Be as bright as you can
Now it’s getting darker and colder, it’s the perfect time to pop a brightly-coloured woolly hat on your heads. Add a matching scarf and gloves too. Whatever it takes to make you all stand out and been seen by the traffic.
And if rainbow colours are not your thing, or not your child’s current choice of fashion, then why not go neon or find a coat with stripes that glow in the dark? Be warm and be safe.