Despite the growing awareness around the issue of children and road safety, children are still dying or being injured on our roads, every day, all over the world. This begs us to ask the question, WHY? Have we failed to educate our children about the dangers of roads? Firstly, our children need to be old enough to understand the potential dangers of our roads and even if they are old enough, their still children.
It’s imperative as parents that we do everything we can to safeguard and protect our children be it crossing a road or driving them somewhere in the car. However, there are situations that can arise that are often beyond our control. What do we do in these situations? Is there anything we can do? This is when we hope every other road user is behaving responsibly and is attentive to what is going on around them because an attentive person is more likely to foresee a situation before it actually happens. Take for example a child walking along the footpath holding a ball. An attentive driver is more likely to see the child running out onto a road than a driver who is distracted trying to find the right radio station, text someone or talk on their mobile phone. We all need to remain vigilant about educating our children about road safety and remaining road safe ourselves. For our roads to be safer for all users, we have to have some level of respect for all road users be it motorists, cyclists, truck drivers. bus drivers, taxi drivers and pedestrians. With the population continuing to increase putting additional people and pressure on our roads, this is paramount.
We cannot assume that children as pedestrians are road safe because they know the basics. Sure, knowledge is power but it takes experience and good observation skills to make split second decisions which our children do not have the maturity or the experience to make. They can and often do act on a whim which can be fatal around roads and this behaviour is not isolated to children.
While driving, have you ever experienced any close calls from other driver’s bad decisions? They could be changing lanes or leaving it to the last minute to turn in front of you or whatever. You may be thinking ….what an idiot or what poor judgement? Well, our children act like that, without due thought of the risks. Many children have run onto a road chasing a ball or a toy that has escaped their clutches. In that moment, their focus is getting the ball not the thought of being hit by a car. Their height and lack of spatial awareness puts them as prime candidates when it comes to incidences on our roads. Educate your children that it is not safe to run out onto the road for anything be it a ball or hat that has blown off their heads, dropped toys etc.
As adults and drivers, we have a duty of care not just to the people in our cars but to other road users; cyclists, pedestrians and other motorists. This requires 100% of our concentration. Anything less than our full concentration is unacceptable.
Mobile phones and other android devices which are often used by drivers whilst driving is nothing but a distraction. Oprah Winfrey’s no phone zone campaign, helped educate people about the importance of not texting or talking while driving, but people still do it. Why, is driving a car seen as a menial task with no responsibility when potentially, the driver’s actions could be life threatening? People do crazy things behind the wheel of a car such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, eating their breakfast cereal, doing their makeup, expressing breast milk – don’t laugh I knew somebody who actually did express breast milk while driving. This is mentioning just a few things. Our actions are only teaching our children bad habits and potentially causing life threatening disasters on our roads. BUT still people feel invincible or have the attitude it won’t happen to them.
As a parent of two primary school aged children I am concerned that drivers still speed through school zones that have a designated 40km speed limit for a set period of time. The areas are clearly labelled, some even have speed cameras operating and still people for one reason or another choose to ignore it. Honestly, I am at a loss to understand why? Life can be busy but what’s more important than our own safety and well-being and the safety and well-being of others. Surely, life reigns supreme and everything else comes a distant second?
Are we as parents good role models to our children when it comes to road safety or are we inconsistent in the messages we send to our children through our own actions?
- For example, do you cross the street either at a set of lights or a pedestrian crossing or do you jaywalk?
- When you’re about to walk across a pedestrian crossing do you just step out trusting that drivers will stop? If so, think again. Don’t put your safety in another person’s hands by assuming the person driving the car will stop for you even if you have the right of way to cross the street. Many people have been hit by cars at pedestrian crossings doing just that. Always wait for cars to stop before walking across a pedestrian crossing and get your children to do the same.
- Do you slow down or even get off the roads when the weather conditions are unfavourable be it heavy rain, snow, poor visibility or some other weather pattern.
- Are you attentive while driving or distracted?
- Do you stop, look and listen before crossing a road?
At the end of the day, we as individuals need to be fully aware and alert when driving our cars. We would benefit from being more tolerant towards others and less self-absorbed. Driving is not a time to be aggressive and exert one’s emotions but a time to be relaxed and completely focused on the task of driving. Everything else, no matter how important, can wait.
Wishing you all the very best and please keep safe on our roads.
PS Would love to hear any comments you may have.