Teaching Kids Road Safety: Essential Tips for Parents

Last week a child in Melbourne escaped through a small opening in a park fence while on an excursion with his daycare. The toddler wandered towards a busy street where he was nearly hit by a large truck. The footage was very distressing to watch and brought up a lot of questions about HOW this could have happened.

It also made us realise just how important teaching kids road safety is, even from a young age. Unfortunately in Australia, car accidents happen every day. We’ve almost accepted this. Often, these accidents involve a pedestrian. And often, this pedestrian is a child. 

While we cannot control what drivers do on the road, we can do our very best to keep our children safe around roads. This starts with educating them. 

We’re a country that loves the outdoors, and on weekends and school holidays, you’ll often find kids cruising around on bikes and scooters with their friends or walking around in groups. Teaching road safety isn’t just about keeping them out of harm’s way; it’s about planting good habits that’ll stick with them for life. We want our kiddos to come back home in one piece every evening.

Here are some effective strategies for teaching road safety to children.

Start Young

Road safety education should commence as soon as your little one gains the ability to stand and walk independently. Even before their initial steps, parents and caregivers can establish the groundwork for responsible road conduct.

You can even introduce the topic while pushing them in a pram or stroller by encouraging your little one to look left and right and left again with you and tell you if they see any cars coming.

Use age-appropriate language and simple explanations to ensure they grasp the significance of these safety practices.

Whenever you find yourselves in parking lots or boarding/disembarking from public transport, always hold their hand to keep them safe and explain why this is so important.

Interactive Games

Children learn best when they’re having fun. Incorporate road safety into games and activities. For instance, you can set up a mini road in your loungeroom, bedroom or yard using chalk or tape, complete with traffic signs and pedestrian crossings.

teaching kids road safety through role playing
Source: Adobe Stock

Encourage your child to play with human toy figures, toy cars, bikes, or scooters and follow the road rules. This hands-on experience helps them develop a better understanding of how to navigate real-life road situations.

Role-playing can also be a powerful tool for teaching road safety. Pretend scenarios, such as crossing the road, waiting for the traffic lights, or using a pedestrian crossing, can help children practice and reinforce the correct behaviour in a safe environment. Be sure to switch roles to make it fun and interactive.

Regular Discussions

Engage your child in conversations about road safety regularly. Ask them questions about what they should do when crossing the road or how to behave when walking near a busy street.

Encourage them to share their thoughts and experiences and be sure to provide positive reinforcement when they demonstrate good road safety habits. This foundation, when built regularly, provides a solid start for when your child starts exploring their environment on their own and when they start learning how to drive.

Walk and Talk

When taking walks or bike rides with your child, use these moments as teaching opportunities. Point out road signs, pedestrian crossings, and traffic lights. Explain their meanings and discuss how they keep everyone safe. This practical experience can help kids relate road safety rules to real-world situations.

school drop-off rules
Source: Adobe Stock

Let your children choose their safety gear and use the opportunity to explain why things like knee pads and elbow pads, and especially helmets, are so important.

When you approach a crossing, ask if they can tell you what you should do before crossing. This keeps the information in their minds long after you’ve stopped the conversation.

Books and Resources

There are many children’s books and resources available that focus on road safety. Reading these books together can be a great way to reinforce the importance of being safe on the roads. Look for age-appropriate literature that features relatable characters and scenarios.

School Programs

Most schools offer road safety education programs. These programs include classroom sessions, practical demonstrations, and even visits from local authorities like police officers or paramedics who can explain the importance of road safety to children. Encourage your child’s school to implement such programs if they don’t already exist.

Use these lessons as building blocks at home. When your teen is learning how to drive, look locally for extra lessons like defensive driving courses to equip your teens with the skills to be extra safe on the road.

Be a Role Model

Children often learn by observing the behaviour of adults. Set a good example by following road safety rules yourself. Use pedestrian crossings, obey traffic signals, and be a courteous driver when behind the wheel.

Your child is more likely to adopt responsible road habits if they see you practising them consistently.

Teaching road safety to children is crucial for their well-being and future. By starting young, using interactive methods, and fostering open discussions, we can empower our kids with the knowledge and skills they need to stay safe on our diverse and sometimes challenging roadways. Encourage them to become responsible road users and remember that being a positive role model is a powerful way to inspire these essential habits. 

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Tina Evans is a complete introvert, an avid reader of romance novels, horror novels and psychological thrillers. She’s a writer, movie viewer, and manager of the house menagerie: three kelpies, one cat, a fish, and a snake. She loves baking and cooking and using her kids as guinea pigs. She was a teenage parent and has learned a lot in twenty-three years of parenting. Tina loves Christmas and would love to experience a white Christmas once in her life. Aside from writing romance novels, she is passionate about feminism, equality, sci-fi, action movies and doing her part to help the planet.

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