TRAFFIC SAFETY FOR THE SCHOOL KIDS
Driving in traffic is something we all do every single day. As adults, we do it without thinking too much, but as a child, there is a lot to learn. The best way to teach your child to navigate traffic is to be in it together. Find out here what is particularly important for your child to learn.
When your child starts school, a new everyday life begins with many new impressions and new routines. The way to school will also be new for most children, and it pays well to train up the good habits here at the start of school. At some point, the children will want to travel to and from school alone and achieve the freedom that lies in that. But driving in traffic is something that needs to be learned over time, so a good piece of advice is to start training well in advance.
If you have to drive your child to school, it is important that you take into account the children who walk or cycle to school. The morning rush hour at school creates many dangerous situations, and remember that it’s not just about your own child’s safety.
TRAFFIC IS BEST LEARNED IN TRAFFIC
Children need to make their own experiences in traffic. They don’t become good road users in the back seat of a car or just by looking in a book. Instead, they must have the opportunity to gradually gain an understanding of what traffic is, why it is best to do so, and what traffic requires of them in different situations – all things that are best learned in traffic together with an adult.
Remember that your child will do what you will tell him/her to do. Children copy the behavior of adults, so if you obey the rules of the road, fasten your seat belt and ride with a bicycle helmet, you are also teaching your child what good and safe behavior in traffic are.
KNOW YOUR CHILD IN TRAFFIC
A child of 5-6 years has different prerequisites for driving in traffic than you as an adult. E.g.:
The child typically cannot see the traffic in the same way as you.
In terms of height, the child does not have the same view as you.
The child has difficulty assessing the distance to other road users.
The child has difficulty assessing the speed of other road users.
The child is easily distracted and finds it difficult to maintain his attention on the traffic.
The child has difficulty thinking ahead and seeing connections in traffic.
WHAT CAN YOU PRACTICE?
A good place to start is to teach your child the basic rules of driving. That means:
Stop at the curb before crossing a road: ‘The curb means stop’.
Orientation: ‘Look both ways before crossing a road’
Light regulation: ‘Green man walk and red man stand’
Many children have learned these rules at an early age. But it may be a good idea to repeat them on the new school road. Also try to let the child be the one who makes the decision about when it is safe to cross the road, for example. Assessing when the cars are far enough away for you to cross a road can be difficult and must be tried many times.
Make some agreements with your child that are easy to remember and keep. It could be, for example, that you go over a specific place where the road is most clearly visible or that you agree on a safety zone between 2 points where there must be a clear lane before you can cross the road.
CHOOSE A SAFE ROUTE TO SCHOOL
The safest route to school is not always the shortest route. On the contrary, it is the route where you have to cross the road the fewest times. There may be a footpath, a tunnel over the carriageway, or a light-regulated pedestrian crossing which makes the road safer. Once you have chosen a safe route, you must train the route together. If the child has to cross the road, designate the places where the child has the best view and make it a habit to cross the road there. It can be nice to start training before school starts, for example during the summer holidays. Just remember that there is a big difference between the amount of traffic during the holidays and every day.
WHEN CAN MY CHILD GO TO SCHOOL ALONE?
It is difficult to set general rules for when the individual child is ready to go to school alone. It depends a lot on how busy the school road is and how much you as a parent have exercised with your child. If the way to school is not dangerous, a 6-7-year-old child will be able to manage the way to school alone. Elsewhere, it will require the child to be 10-11 years old.
A rule of thumb says that children aged 10-12 have the height, maturity, and experience to see the traffic to such an extent that they can navigate on their own in traffic. Of course, depending on how much you have trained.
BY BIKE TO SCHOOL
Maybe you want to cycle to school, which will also be good exercise. But cycling in traffic requires more from the child. On a bicycle, for example, your child moves from the pavement out between the cars, where many more rules apply. Everything goes faster and the child also moves with greater speed. The child must be able to react quickly, and this cannot be done without help in the first years of school. A 6-year-old child will typically have enough to do with controlling his bike safely. The child must be able to steer, brake, turn and orient himself effortlessly without losing balance and be able to signal to other road users. Only then does the child have time to concentrate on the traffic.