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Teaching children about road safety

Road safety tips for parents and carers

Do you remember learning to cross the road?

Perhaps you recall lessons at school on the Green Cross Code or a parent or carer teaching you to stop, look, listen and think before crossing.

Teaching children about road safety from an early age is a really important thing that parents and carers can do.

It’s a topic that even the youngest children can learn something about because they will be using the roads (including pavements), whether they are walking, cycling, scooting or travelling as a passenger in a vehicle.

Why is teaching road safety important?

Road safety is a life skill and what children learn initially with their parents and carers will be built upon as they grow up – hopefully through access to pedestrian and cycle training at school, pre-driver education and then learning to drive or motorcycle, with regular refresher training on an ongoing basis.

Sadly, 1,752 people were killed in reported road accidents in Great Britain in 2019, with nearly 26,000 seriously injured. Of those killed, 39 were children aged 15 or under.

However, road deaths and injuries do not have to happen. The last few decades have shown that the number of people killed or injured on the roads can be reduced, despite increasing traffic, through effective road safety including a mix of education, engineering and enforcement.

How can parents and carers help children learn about road safety?

A survey that we commissioned among the parents of primary school children found that less than half had received any road safety education or training within the last 12 months in school, meaning that in many cases road safety education had become the sole responsibility of parents and carers. For those children who do receive some road safety education at school, it is still vital that this is built on outside school, reinforcing the learning and setting a good example. Encouragingly, the survey also revealed that more than half of parents felt that they were best placed to teach their child road safety skills.

Road safety is best taught in a practical setting meaning that parents are ideally placed to discuss road safety topics such as safe and dangerous places to cross the road, and a great time to do this is while walking to and from school, going to the shops or park, or just walking around the local area. If you drive to school, why not park a little way away and walk the last part of the journey to give your children a chance to pick up some pedestrian skills. Children often mimic the behaviour of their parents and carers, so it is vital to be consistent and put into practice safe crossing techniques. Ultimately, parents and carers play an important role in preparing children to become independent travellers.

We have produced four short films for parents and carers with age-appropriate road safety advice to teach children aged from 4-11-years-old (pre-school, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2).

Teaching road safety guide for parents
Teaching road safety guide for parents

See our road safety guide for parents and carers of children aged 4-11

Teaching road safety guide for parents
Children with additional needs

See our road safety guide for parents and carers of children with additional needs

Teaching road safety guide for parents
Are you a road safety professional?

RoSPA can support road safety professionals with evaluation of their programmes

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