If the 2016 data analysis of the US Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) is to be believed, 71 percent of motor vehicle crashes resulted in children’s death as vehicle occupants, 19 percent as pedestrians and 3 percent as cyclists.
This alarming statistic highlights the importance of teaching kids the basics of road safety rules and regulations. More so, because children, being immature, are not seized of the risks of using the road on foot without adult supervision. Road safety inculcated in young impressionable minds will hold the kids in good stead, till they become responsible adults.
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Road safety rules kids must learn
The ambit of road safety rules and regulations is vast and it is certainly not desirable to burden young minds with all the details. So, here are a few basic must-know road safety rules for kids that will keep them safe on the roads:
#1. Traffic signals
Almost from the infant stage, kids have been observing their parents stop and go at road traffic signals while driving. By the time they come of age, they know that the vehicle slows down when the light turns yellow, stops when it turns red and moves forward when the light turns green.
However, what they are probably not exposed to is the signals that are meant for pedestrians for crossing the road. They should be told that only when the signal at the pedestrian crossing turns green and indicates ‘Walk’ or displays the walking man sign or a hand symbol, should they get down from the sidewalk and cross the road over the pedestrian crossing.
The children should be taught not to cross the road if the pedestrian signal is red and displays the ‘Don’t Walk’ sign. Besides the pedestrian signals, there are other signs too that kids must be aware of. Only when the kids familiarize themselves with these essential signs and signals, should they venture to use the road.
#2. Crossing the road
It is practically impossible to accompany kids every time they set foot out of the house. Therefore, the first thing they should be taught is to cross the street, after getting dropped off from their school bus or while visiting their friends across the street.
As a first step, kids should be told to look for the pedestrian crossing with pedestrian signals. This is where they should be crossing the road. However, if there are no such signals or crossings available on the road, the kids should be told to simply cross the road from anywhere, except at the road bends.
Teach the kids the age-old drill of crossing the road, that is, first look to the right, then to the left and then again to the right and cross, if no vehicle is approaching. If a vehicle is approaching, they should wait for it to pass and then cross the road.
As already mentioned, kids should be warned never to cross the road at the road bends or between two stationary vehicles. Children aged six or below need adults to hold their hands while crossing the road.
#3. Make use of senses
It is not always possible for kids to observe the oncoming vehicles, especially on road bends. So, they should fine-tune their sense of hearing to listen for approaching vehicle engine sounds and horns.
Whenever the kids hear a horn, they should stop to see where the sound of the horn is coming from. If the vehicle blowing the horn is approaching, they should wait for it to pass and then cross the road, after looking left and right.
Even if the approaching vehicle is not blowing the horn, the kids should be able to discern the engine sounds of the approaching vehicle. They should be able to differentiate between a sound growing louder and a sound fading away are that of an approaching vehicle and a vehicle moving away, respectively.
#4. No running across the road
It is a natural tendency for kids to run across the road in order to avoid the oncoming vehicles. However, nothing can be more dangerous than this, because a kid running across the road takes the oncoming driver by surprise, rushing him to apply the brakes that may result in an accident.
Kids should be taught to be alert while crossing the road or even while running along the road or playing by the roadside. Adults holding the hands of toddlers should be extra careful, as sometimes these small kids get out their grasp and run across the road, unmindful of the traffic. Teach the kids to stay calm and never to run across the road.
#5. Always use sidewalks
Many kids prefer to walk on the road, instead of on the sidewalk. This is dangerous, since any vehicle while negotiating the traffic may hit them while avoiding collision with other vehicles.
Sidewalks are a safe bet since they are at a higher level than the road and clearly demarcated. So, teach your kids to always use the sidewalk while walking along the road.
#6. Be safe on a bicycle
If the kids are of cycling age, it ups their risk of accident on the road. This is because it is easy to lose control of a bike, resulting in an accident. So, the first step is to make the kids expert bike riders. They should know when to brake and when to use both the brakes simultaneously and not to use only the front brake to prevent toppling over.
The kids should ensure that their bike and all its components, such as brakes, lights, and tyres, are in good condition. The kids should use the protective gear while riding the bike, such as helmet and kneecaps.
The kids should adhere to the bicycle lane. Where there is none, they should ride the bike on the extreme side of the road, moving along with the traffic and not against it. They should always be on the lookout for heavy vehicles and use light at night or in poor visibility. The kids should be discouraged from cycling on busy streets.
Kids on the street are always at risk, whether they are on foot, riding a bike or even traveling in a vehicle. However, teaching them the road safety rules and regulations is a step in the right direction.