Educating children about road safety

Children learn about road safety from a very early age whether from their nursery or primary school and developing that knowledge is paramount for their safety. As a parent or carer you play a big part in helping your child learn to stay safer on roads.

Research shows that:

  • Over the last decade, 0-11 year olds accounted for 70 killed and seriously injured casualties per year in South Yorkshire.
  • Globally, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among 15-19 year olds and the second leading cause for 10-14 year olds and 20-24 year olds
 
It's true you are your child's best teacher. Children copy adult's behaviour, so if they see adults taking risks they will likely take risks too. One of the best ways you can help your child to stay safe is to set a good example when using roads. This can either be on foot, by bicycle or by car.
 
As they continue to grow up and become more independant, hopefully they will continue to use the advice given to them when younger and use their skills to cross the road in a safe and responsible manner.
 
  

Latest News
 

Good Egg Safety & Britax car seat advice: Are you or one of your friends/family currently expecting? April 2017

BRAKE Road Safety Charity update on Child Seats and fittings 22nd March 2017 (including a handy letter for schools)

Road Safety GB article on the new rules for child seats 23rd February 2017

SYP Issue warning after 368 South Yorkshire parents fail to adhere to child seat laws 4th January 2017

Download your FREE i-Size guide from Good Egg 25th August 2016

The terrifying effects of sleep deprivation (Transport Research Laboratory) 4th April 2016

Aviva Safe Driving Test, how good are you?

 

 
Below are four main topics where you will find advice on how to keep your child safer through some simple tips.
 
Buggy
Safety
Holding
Hands
Be bright
be seen
Car
safety

Buggy Safety
As a parent, you want to look after your child/children as much as you can and knowing some simple tips regarding buggy safety can help.Always be aware of potential dangers when you are out and about with your buggy.

Strapped in – before going out check that your child is securely strapped in their pushchair or use reins. If you decide to use a car seat in your buggy, again make sure that the harness is clipped in securely. Check  the harness straps are not too loose or too tight, for example clothing can alter how tight the straps can be.

Pavements – when on pavements look out for vehicles coming in and out of driveways. High fences, trees and walls often create difficulties seeing down a driveway; therefore never assume it is clear.

If there are no footpaths take extra care. Keep to the right side of the road so that you can see any oncoming traffic and they can see you.
 
Crossing the road – remember when pushing a buggy/pushchair it is a lot further in front of you so when you get to the edge of the pavement to cross remember to leave room for it on the pavement and not in the road. Always use the Green Cross Code to cross, keeping you and your child/children safer. Look for a safer place to cross if possible, for example a Zebra Crossing.
 
Take particular care when crossing between parked cars and make sure that the buggy is not pushed into the road when checking if it is clear. Alternatively look for a safer place to cross where nothing is blocking your view in either direction.
If you cross at a pedestrian crossing, check that all the traffic has stopped before you start to cross.
 

Parked cars – There are often parked cars along the pavements, particularly outside school at the start and finish of the school day. Try to move to a safer place to cross if possible such as the School Crossing Patrol Officer but if you do have to cross between parked cars, remember drivers may see you but will probably not see your buggy. 
 
More than one child – Make sure other children with you on foot, hold on to the buggy tightly. Don’t let them rush off in front or lag behind and explain about being aware of driveways and point out the colour of reversing lights on vehicles. Keep yourself between them and the traffic. Remember not to be tempted to push the buggy into the road in front of you, find a safer place to cross wherever possible even it means a slightly longer journey.
 
Out shopping – When you return to the car, it is important to always put children in the car first. This not only means that the children are safer being in the car but also gets them settled whilst you are putting the shopping in the car. If possible, leave the buggy until last. If you have parked parallel to the road, put children in and out from the pavement side even if it means climbing over to the furthest seat in the rear of the car. Never leave a child sat in a buggy while you load the car.
 
Be bright be seen– wear or carry something bright or light coloured so that other road users can see you. This is particularly important during winter months and dark nights. See our Be Bright Be Seen campaign for additional tips.
 
Top Tips
  • Never leave your child alone in a pushchair.
  • Use an approved clip-on board for extra children.
  • Ensure your buggy has two locks and use them so it will not fold up with your child in it.
  • When stationary always use the brake.
  • Check regularly for wear and tear on wheels, brakes and harness.
  • Pushchairs are for children not shopping!
  • Ensure that your pushchair is made to the current British standard. Go to www.tradingstandards.gov.uk for current standard.

Holding Hands 
As your child gets older, they start striving for more knowledge and independence. Therefore, it is now time to continue to build on what they have seen whilst out and about in the buggy or pushchair.


Pavement Safety - Explaining what goes on the road and what goes on the pavement is very important. Tell them that ALL vehicles can go on the roads, not just cars. When they are with their adult, they should always hold hands so that they cannot run off ahead or lag behind. This ensures that they do not get to close to the road. Keep yourself between your child and the road. Should you cross over, swap hands, keeping yourself in the middle. 

Get children to check driveways and remind them what colour vehicles’ reversing lights are. Never assume that driveways are clear as there may be something exiting the driveway or wanting to pull in. Treat it as you would the road when crossing. High trees, fences and walls can obstruct your view of a driveway, do not just walk out in front of it.
 
Distractions are a big issue when crossing the road as people do not always concentrate when crossing. If you are on the phone, halt the conversation until you are safely across the road. Think about what is more important, you and your child's safety or your telephone call?
 
 
 
Green Cross Code
Start to teach your child the green cross code:
 
Step 1THINK about where you want to cross. Is there a safer place near by that would be better? Pedestrian crossings like a zebra crossing or even a School Crossing Patrol Officer near a school is safer. Will drivers see you crossing the road? Try not to cross next to/ between parked cars or on a bend crossing when there is somewhere safer.
 
Step 2STOP when you have decided on where you are crossing make sure that you are at least a step back from the kerb, do not get too close to the traffic. Give yourself room in case a large vehicle goes past or a vehicle mounts the kerb.
 
Step 3LOOK Have a good look around. We recommend looking from the right first as the traffic in the UK is closer to you from the right. Look all around in every direction and keep looking until it is clear.
 
Step 4LISTEN As you are looking have a good listen for sound of traffic. Be aware that cyclists do not often make a lot of noise. Remind children to listen out for emergency vehicles that could be travelling faster than the normal traffic. If traffic is coming, let it pass - look all around and listen again. Do not cross until you are certain that you have plenty of time.
 
Step 5THINK if it is all clear. Walk straight across the road in a straight line. Keep looking and listening for traffic while you cross.
 
Always set a good example by crossing correctly - your child will copy you!
Car park safety
 
Arriving at car parks can be exciting for children, as they usually cannot wait to get where they are going. However, remind them that it is important to stay seated and belted in the car until the engine is switched off. When exiting the car keep children with you at all times, holding their hands firmly.
 
Returning to the car with children and shopping can be difficult. Put children in the car first ensuring that they are securely fastened in their correct seat before loading the shopping. Teach older children to hold on to the door handle while you are opening the other doors or loading in younger children.
 
Double check for children when reversing; be aware that due to their height they may be difficult to see.
 
Top Tips
  • When you get to the road, ALWAYS STOP, never run across.
  • Children should never be near roads on their own, even if it is to pop to the shops or going to school.
  • Would a driver always see you? Think about winter months and dark nights particularly when out walking. Wear or carry something that is reflective and help drivers by wearing something bright so they can see you more easily
  • Keep hold of childrens’ hands
  • Explain about stranger danger and what to do if they loose you.
  • Where possible use a safer place to cross.
  • As children get older discuss with them about distractions, mobile phones, friends, music etc and the possible consequences when not concentrating. 

Be Bright Be Seen
From September onwards throughout the winter months, the Safer Roads Partnership focuses on Be Bright Be Seen and there is a huge campaign that takes place.
 
When out and about near roads, it is important that other road users can see you. During the winter months and late nights, this is made harder. In October the clocks change and it begins to get darker, which means there is more chance of you being outside when it goes dark.

Vehicles have lights so that you are able to see them but what have you got on that shows a driver you are there?
 
During weather like fog and snow, visibility is also reduced. Whether you are out with the children walking or out on bikes make sure you are all visible.
 
 
Being Bright
Wearing something bright and encouraging children to do the same, can keep you safer on the roads. Fluorescent or neon colours are best!

You are more likely to be spotted wearing something with these colours on when the day is dull and grey outside. But don’t worry you don’t have to go out head to toe in these colours! Just have something on that will likely get spotted by drivers i.e. a scarf or hat.

 
Think about what School Crossing Patrol Officers wear. They have bright fluorescent jackets on so that drivers can see them when approaching. The emergency services also wear fluorescent clothing, as they need to be seen when working near or on the road. Even their vehicles are marked up with hi viz strips.

School Crossing
Patrol Officer
Fire Fighter
Police Officer

Being Seen
Fluorescent colours show up well in daylight. However, they are not as effective in the dark. Therefore, along with fluorescent colours you really need to wear something REFLECTIVE.
 
The pictures above show how effective reflective materials are. The picture below shows the difference between wearing something reflective and then not wearing something reflective.
Which one can you see better?
Which one would a driver see better?
 
 
 
 

Trying to wear something that is both fluorescent and reflective will make it easier to be seen both day and night. Again, you do not have to be covered head to toe in anything special to be bright and seen. Just a simple key ring or stickers to accessorise either your coats or bags.Remember it is not just when you are out walking, what about when you and your family are out on bikes. Check out our cycling section for additional information.

 

 

Top Tips
  • Try to wear something both fluorescent & reflective.
  • If crossing the road, cross preferably at a dedicated pedestrian crossing.
  • Walk and cross the road where it is also well lit, where possible.
  • You can even get reflective dog collars & leads!


Car Seats &

Seatbelts

 

 

Do you know the Law?  
  • The Law States that if you are in a seat that has a seatbelt you MUST wear it.
  • A child under the age of 12 years or under 135cm in height MUST be sat in the correct child restraint.
  • It is the driver’s responsibility, in their personal car, for anyone under 14 years of age to ensure their seatbelts are fastened and have the appropriate car seat, if required.
  • Child car seats were made compulsory in September 2006.
  • Child car seats must have an EU label attached: ECE R44.03 or above to be legal, or comply with the new i-size regulation.
  • Children up to 13kg (approximately 9-12 months) months MUST be in a rear-facing child seat. However, it is expected over the next 5 years that this will be fazed out and will be increased to approximately 15 months for a child to remain in a rear-facing child seat.
  • It is illegal for a rear-facing child seat to be in the front seat with an active airbag. You can deactivate the passenger airbag or ask the manufacturer to deactivate it. However, the manufacturers may not do this due to liability and you must remember to reactivate the airbag afterwards. It is recommend that you do not use a rear-facing car seat at all in the front seat.
Seatbelts & Pregnancy
 
Pregnancy is an exciting time of change, but this does not mean that you are exempt from wearing a seatbelt. Buckling up is more important than ever. Wearing a seatbelt saves lives.
 
Wearing a seat belt while pregnant will not harm your baby. It may not always be comfortable but if you have a collision it will significantly improve your safety and help to protect you, your baby and any other adults and children travelling with you.
 
The seatbelt’s diagonal strap is to sit between your breasts, whilst moving the strap around the side of your bump so that the lap strap sits comfortably under your bump, as low as possible, from hipbone to hipbone. You may find that you will need to adjust the seatbelt, especially as the baby grows so that it is more comfortable.
 
You may also find that you need to push the seat back and adjust the height of the seat and steering wheel. Remember not to move your seat too far away from the steering wheel, as you don’t want to be stretching too much to reach the clutch, brake and accelerator. This could affect your reaction times. Don't forget that adjusting the seat could change your view out of the mirrors so always check them if you have made any adjustments.
New borns
 
You need to make sure that you get the right in-car protection for your child from the beginning.
 
When you leave hospital on your first journey your new born must be transported in an appropriate car seat. NEVER travel with your child on your lap or put the seat belt around you and the baby. If you were to be involved in a collision then you risk the chance of crushing the baby. 
 
How to decide on the most appropriate car seat 
 
Try before you buy – NOT ALL CHILD SEATS WILL FIT ALL CARS OR BE APPROPRIATE FOR ALL CHILDREN. Always purchase from a reputable retailer where they have trained staff. They will show you how it is fitted and works. It must be appropriate for your child, car and in a safe condition. Check that the seat meets the latest safety standard UN ECE regulation 44.04 (September 2010) or above.  
 
Cost of seats – the cost of car seats varies massively. Bare in mind that when you go to purchase a car seat that they are of a very complex design. What you see is only a small fraction. Much work goes into designing a shell that can withstand an impact from a collision whilst properly restraining a child’s body to protect it from any collision forces. Do not be tempted to buy the cheapest one, do your research.  
 
Second hand car seats – before you consider purchasing a second hand car seat, just ask yourself the following questions:
  • Do you know if the car seat has ever been involved in an accident previously?
  • How many owners has this car seat really had?
  • Do you know the person you are getting the car seat from, can they be trusted?
  • Do you know if the webbing in the car seat has been damaged, can you see any damage even if you were looking for it? 
  • Are there any instructions with the child seat? 
  • Is it worth your child’s life getting a second hand car seat? If the answer is no to even one of the above questions then please reconsider and purchase a new car seat from a reputable retailer, if you can. 
 
Children with disabilities – The same rules apply for children with disabilities unless a doctor says they are exempt on medical grounds. They can also use a disabled person’s seat belt or child restraint designed for their needs. Always seek specialist advice to be sure.
 
Best practice
 
Sit children in the back where they are the safest- Children must use the correct child seat wherever they sit in the car. The best seat would be the rear middle seat as it is away from the sides of a car. Then the seat behind the passenger as it will usually be next to the kerb, it is safer for the child getting out. Remember a rear-facing child seat cannot be in the front seat with an active airbag and if it is a forward-facing child seat move the seat back as far as you can.
 
Praising your child–Always encourage all good car behaviour such as not wriggling out of seat belts or harnesses, not distracting the driver and not playing with the locks.
 
Teach your child– Tell them never to put their arms, legs or head out of the window even if the car is not moving. Never allow a child to be left alone, unsupervised in a parked car even if the engine is switched off. They may release the hand break, burn themselves with the cigarette lighter or get locked in. Even if the child is asleep, it is always safer to take them with you.
 
Taxis & Minibuses
 
Children under 3: They must have an appropriate child restraint for both the front and rear of the car. If no appropriate child restraint is available then the child can be transported in the rear ONLY, unrestrained.
 
Children aged 3 -12 or under 135cm in height:They must have an appropriate child restraint for both the front and rear of the car. If no appropriate child restraint is available then the child can be transported in the rear ONLY using the adult seatbelt.
 
Children aged 12 years and above or over 135cm in height: They must use the adult seatbelt in both the front and rear of the vehicle.
 
Adults (14 and above)/Driver: They MUST use the adult seatbelt in both front and rear of the vehicle.
Please note: Minibus drivers and companies do not have to provide child car seats. You must provide your own if you want to make sure a child has one.
 
In an emergency – the law then states:
For emergencies and unexpected necessary short distance situations ONLY.
If no appropriate child restraint is available, then children over 3 years old can travel in the REAR of the car using the adult seat belt.
This does NOT apply to children under 3.
 
Different styles and types of car seats
 
There are various types and versions of child seats/restraints. Each has their own merits as each depends on the child and car – no one child seat fits everyone. As children grow, the seat must change to ensure the protection it provides is effective.
 
Important factors to consider when buying the correct seat restraint: weight, physical development & length of the child (age is just guidance only)
 

ALWAYS READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!

 
ISOFIX Seats- International Standards Organisation FIX
ISOFIX is a universal system that is slowly arriving. It has been adopted by car manufacturers and all new cars should have ISOFIX anchor points. The idea is to use these anchor points to connect the seat to the car instead of using the seatbelt. This helps remove any complicated fitting or any slack whilst increasing the protection provided to the child.
 
Booster Cushions
Please take a moment to look at the difference of protection between the Booster Seat (on the right) and the Booster Cushion (on the left). A child has much more protection in a Booster Seat. Although booster cushions are still legal they are no longer being manufactured. It is recommended that you use a booster seat.
 
Car seat fitting guidance
 
Remember a rear-facing seat cannot be used in the front seat with an active airbag. The airbag could be deactivated if needed, although placing the child in the rear of the car is better practice. If you do deactivate the airbag, just remember to reactivate it afterwards.
Why rearward facing? Because it provides greater protection for the baby’s head, neck and back, should the vehicle be involved in a collision.
 
It is ALWAYS recommended that professional advice is sought on purchasing the correct child restraint and on its correct fitting. There are colour guides on all child seats for guidance on the correct fitting. Keep the fitting instructions so that you can check that your seat is correctly fitted each time you use it.
 
Ensure when fitting a child restraint in the car that the seat does not sit onto the seatbelt buckle, known as “Buckle crunch”. Do not lift the seat up with towels etc.
Child restraints should not be fitted to seat in a car that is sideways.
Children with long legs but not reached the minimum weight – a combination seat may be helpful. A leg injury is less likely to be as serious as a neck or spinal injury
 
If it is not possible to fit 3 child seats in the rear of the car then one car seat can be utilised in the front if possible. Remember to think about the active airbag. If this is also not possible then the eldest child can sit in the rear using an adult seatbelt. This does not however, apply if the eldest child is under 3.
 
A common problem between parents is that their children wriggle and moan about their car seats. Check the harnesses that they are not too tight or rubbing. Often it may be due to the seat being uncomfortable, so a bit of readjusting may solve this. Also double check with a reputable retailer that the car seat is still appropriate for your child as it may be that they have out-grown it. Encourage any good behaviour by children in the car.
 
Where a harness system is being used, it needs to be two fingers tight. The 5-point harness systems utilise 5 attachment points which consist of: 2 at the shoulders, 2 at the hips & 1 at the crotch. Bear in mind the amount of clothing the child is wearing may mean that the harness needs adjusting.Regularly check the shoulder straps as your baby grows and to accommodate for different clothing at different times of the year.
 
Top Tips!
 
Lock it– remember to activate the child locks so that your child cannot open the door.
 
Loose items – objects can fly about in a collision. Keep all loose items secure in the glove box, boot or behind a barrier. Even a dog can increase in weight in a collision; therefore, we suggest a dog harness for the car. In a collision at 30mph, a box of tissues would hit your child with the same force as a house brick!
 
Replace the seat– if a child car seat has been involved in a collision Ensure that you replace the child seat immediately. You may not be able to see any damage but it could be unsafe. Therefore, in the event of another collision your child may not have the full protection that the seat is meant to provide.
Should you have any issues with your insurance company replacing the car seat following a collision this webpage may help.
 
Empty car seat- if there is a child seat in the car it should be strapped in even if there is no child in the seat because if the vehicle were to be involved in a collision the seat would still fly forward.
 

 
Useful Publications
 
 

Small steps to safety A5 Flyer (PDF)

 

Published by the Safer Roads Partnership

Bump to Five Leaflet (PDF)

Published by the Safer Roads Partnership

 
 

 
Useful websites:

www.childcarseats.org.uk - car seat information

www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/in-car-safety/ - car seat information

www.protectchildgb.org.uk - car seat information

Tales of the Road - Fun, interactive and educational website with information and games for children on road safety.

Streetwise - Fun and interactive website for kids, parents and teachers on road safety.

Time to Teach Them - DFT short video on child safety.

Safe on the Street - Fun and interactive website on child safety.

Child Car Seats - Website featuring advice and help on child seats.

Child Car Seats - Short DFT video on the benefits of child seats.

Togo & Nogo - Interactive website for teachers, parents and children.

Auto Graph - Guide to car safety and keeping your children protected on the road.

Pedestrian Safety - Walking safety tips 

 

 

For further information on the Safer Roads Partnership and any of its campaigns or initiatives, or if you have any queries, then please feel free to email saferroads@southyorks.pnn.police.uk or telephone 01709 832455 and ask for the Safer Roads Office.

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