Road Safety Tips for Kids
Getting from A to B isn't as easy as 1-2-3 anymore. Increased traffic on roads and a significant rise in distracted driving means our kids need to be street smart sooner rather than later. Step up your family's sidewalk travel savvy with some common sense tips for every age and stage.
There's no denying moms are marvellous at multitasking. But modeling your ability to walk the dog, stuff a backpack, sign a permission slip and chat with a neighbour while walking kids across the street can send a mixed message. Impressionable eyes are absorbing our walking habits, so follow the golden rules (cross only at the corners, stop, look and listen) yourself and your minions might more easily follow suit.
Make Eye Contact
With accidentally or deliberately distracted drivers focusing on traffic lights, things in their vehicle, and other surroundings, simply stopping at a street corner often isn't enough. Teach kids to make direct eye contact with the drivers at intersections. Do this even when they are with you to get them into the habit.
Walk this Way (But Don’t Talk This Way)
Sound off on putting aside smart phones, tablets, headphones and earbuds when kids are walking to and from school or activities. These items so easily distract them from their surroundings. Instead, make a point to have them stop, look and listen (Bonus: they might actually hear those all important details like ‘I love you' and ‘remember to bring home your lunch bag!')
The bigger the car, the more of a visual obstacle when parked (though you'd have to wrestle our handy seven-seater from us if it came down to that). Remind kids to be careful when walking behind, in front, or around large vehicles, and as a driver pulling out in a super-sized sedan, be extra cautious you are in the all-clear.
Take a Walk
Kids learn best by doing. While we want to keep them safe, as kids get older, the opportunity to practice some of the rules we've taught them can be critical to raising a street-smart child. Allow them appropriate freedoms based on their age and maturity. Try parking a block from school instead of dropping them right at the door each day, and encourage them to walk slightly ahead of you for a stretch. Watch them cross a corner or crosswalk in front of you noting what they do and how they approach it. It empowers them and provides a chance for them to practice under our watchful eye.
Ages and Stages
All kids develop differently, but experts recommend that children under the age of 9 (and some say 12) always be accompanied when walking to school, until they have the cognitive maturity to properly assess risks and control impulsive reactions. If kids live close to the school but morning logistics make it tough to walk with them each day, consider setting up a ‘walking school bus' in your neighbourhood and organizing one or more parents to chaperone a small group of walkers to and from school.
Careful at Crosswalks
Faith in our fellow drivers is a noble idea, but crosswalks can't always be counted on to provide safe passage for our precious ones. Remind kids to follow all the necessary safety tips: pause just as at any corner, press the button and make eye contact and an obvious walking motion before crossing under those yellow signs.
Look on the Bright Side
In rainy, overcast weather dress the kids in bright, fun, reflective rain clothing (we're sure the kids won't complain!) to keep them visible and out of harms way.
Image of ready for the rain from Shutterstock.