Teaching children how to cross the road

Children are most at risk of being killed or seriously injured on the roads when they are on foot.

Good road safety behaviour can be learnt from a very early age. You can help by:

  • Setting a good example
  • Holding hands with your child as you cross the road
  • Always finding the safest place to cross
  • Stop, Look & Listen before crossing the road
  • Take time to teach your child how to cross the road safely

‘Tales of the Road: A highway code for young road users’‘ is a great resource to start discussing road safety with your children.

Choosing a safe place to cross

Always look for a safe place to cross the road.

Here are some simple ways you can identify safe pedestrian crossings:

  • Puffin and pelican crossings have traffic lights and a button to press which controls a ‘green man’.
  • Zebra crossings have two yellow beacons and striped markings across the road. Remember to wait for cars to stop in both directions. If there is an island in the middle, treat each half of the road as a separate crossing.
  • Footbridges go over roads and subways go under roads.
    Traffic islands are places you can stand in between lanes in the centre of a road.

Pedestrian distractions

Distractions contribute to a large number of road injuries for pedestrians. No matter what your age, there are some simple steps you can take to stay safe on the roads:

  • Stop, look and listen before you cross the road
  • Take your headphones out before crossing the road
  • Don’t use your phone to make calls or read text messages whilst crossing
  • Always cross the road at designated crossings

Speed and stopping distances

Speed remains one of the ‘Fatal Four’ main reasons why people are killed or serious injured on the roads.

Driving faster not only lessens your chances of being able to stop in time to avoid hitting someone or something. It also means if you can’t stop in time, you will hit someone or something with greater impact. The greater the impact, the greater the chances of causing serious injury or death.

This diagram illustrates the impact to a pedestrian from a speeding car by comparing it to a fall from a building.

The stopping distance of a car can vary hugely depending upon the driver’s reaction, condition and maintenance of the car, the road surface and weather. Stopping distances can be twice as much in the wet and 10 times as much in the ice/snow.

As a pedestrian you should always:

  • choose a safe place to cross
  • be aware of moving and stationary cars around you
  • make eye contact with the driver if you can
  • be bright, be seen
  • don’t assume the speed of a car coming towards you
  • if in doubt, wait
  • remain alert whilst crossing the road