Traffic has always been a hazard for children. Youngsters who live in urban areas must deal with it every day. Even in the suburbs, children whose residental street is not lined with parked cars must learn to watch for the occasional speeding vehicle.
But the problem lies mainly in cities. Traffic accidents involving pedestrians are increasing. These figures worry parents, as they wonder when to begin letting their children cross the streets alone. When to launch children on that independent journey is a complicated decision that depends on many things.
There is no fixed age that is “right” for every child. One deciding factor should be the amount of traffic in your neighborhood and your estimate of how hazardous the streets are.
It should be comforting for parents to remember that they have been training children how to cross the street and road safety for years through personal example. When you are with your children, you have always crossed on the green lights only and looked for cars in both directions.
You have made a point of holding your child’s hand as well as being concentrated and focused all the time. Children learn by imitation. This is the best way to teach children road safety.
When you are teaching traffic safety rules to your children, make sure they really understand what is involved. For example, children often assume that, if they can see a car, the driver can also see them. Explain that because of their size, children may be out of the driver’s range of vision. Remind them that in some places the pedestrian does not have the right of way, and even where they do, the rule is more honored in its breach than its observance.
To find out what your child knows about road safety, ask questions. Can your child read the “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” signs. Test out whether he or she actually looks first to the right, then to the left, then right again before crossing. Does your child know right and left automatically or does he or she have to think it over? Does your child know what the word pedestrian means?
Before you let a child cross alone, stage some rehearsals. Ask the child to decide when you both should cross. Frequent traffic safety rehearsals will give you an idea of the child’s actual understanding of traffic, not just what rules may have been memorized.
It stands to reason that you must be concerned with how to teach children road safety due to the rising number of accidents taking place in cities.