"Get Smart - Use Safety from the Start!" - A Guide for Parents

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Around 1,500 children aged 0-11 are killed or seriously injured on UK roads every year, which is almost 29 children every week.

The guide below aims to help reduce those figures by assisting you to keep your children safe. 

The Green Cross Code

To stay safe on the road, it is encouraged that everyone uses the Green Cross Code. It is important that you set a good example to your children.

1. Think - Find the safest place to cross the road

2. Stop - Just before you get to the kerb ensuring that you can see the traffic in both directions

3. Look and Listen - Check both directions for traffic and Listen, paying full attention to the road. 

4. Wait - Until all traffic has passed and if waiting at a crossing, don't cross until all cars have stopped or if at a pelican, toucan, puffin or pegasus crossing, the green man must be visible before you cross. 

5. Look and Listen - Wait until it is safe and no traffic before you cross and if safe walk across the road - Do not Run!

6. Arrive - You have arrived safely 

When crossing roads, they should avoid any distractions such as talking to friends, using mobile phones or listening to music. They need to understand that using their eyes and ears at all times is essential to being safe near traffic. 

Children under the age of 9 are less able to judge where the sounds of motor vehicles are coming from which is due to them having under developed peripheral vision. Children up to the age of 10 should be supervised around traffic and hold an adult's hand when crossing roads. 

Be Bright, Be Seen

Motorists can often find it difficult to see pedestrians wearing dark clothing or when there is lack of visibility. It is vital that as a parent you can help your child to be easily seen near traffic.

There are a number of ways you are able to achieve this:

1. Wear Bright clothing

2. Wear Reflective clothing for example hi-viz vest

3. Customise backpack's or coats by adding reflective zip clips and stickers

Remember bright colours cannot be seen in the dark, therefore reflective clothing is the safest option. This should also apply to you as well not just your child. 

Car Seats & Seat Belts

It is important when purchasing a car seat, that you have it properly fitted as this will help to prevent your child being flung about inside the vehicle or ejected from it. If you happen to have a crash, it will also take in some of the impact force.

The law states that everyone must wear a seat belt, where one is fitted in both cars and goods vehicles. The driver could receive a fine if a child under the age of 14 does not wear a seat belt or Car Seat. Children under the age of 12 and also under 135cm tall have to use the appropriate car seat for their weight. This applies to the front and back seat of any vehicle. A child is able to use an adult seat belt when they reach 135cm or their 12th birthday, depending on which one comes first. Anyone over the age of 14 and not wearing a seat belt is responsible for themselves. 

Do not use a rear facing child seat on a passenger seat where an active air bag is fitted, it must be switched off. Check your vehicle manual which will detail the air bag requirements as they are different with each vehicle. 

Parents are teaching their children bad driving habits

Approaching 17 can be exciting for teenagers as they consider the prospect of learning to drive.  It can be an anxious and often stressful time for parents. Driving requires three things to make it successful, namely knowledge (usually gained from the Theory Test), skills (from the lessons and practise) and finally attitude.  This last point is perhaps the most important as it is often given least consideration with an individual’s attitude coming from influences through the media, peers, relatives, and parents. 

If we are a passenger in a car we watch what is happening and how people behave and this observation occurs from a very early age.  From the age of two we soak this up like a sponge and it is considered to be the norm. If we see adults getting angry, speeding, or using their phone for example then we do not know to question the risks as it appears to be part of driving. Equally responsible driving will also be noticed and copied. 

Long standing and risky beliefs held by a young driver are very difficult to change in a few hours of driving lessons so consider how you drive and the message it could be sending. Be a good role model to your children!