As the clocks go forward, lockdown restrictions ease and the Easter holidays are upon us, families are likely to be excited to be out and about again in the spring weather. All the more reason to make sure that babies and children of all ages are safe in cars and that drivers are aware and concerned for children as pedestrians.

Car seats especially may need to be checked for size with growing children. Drivers need to remain as watchful for the child that could stray onto the road or the young cyclist, as they are when avoiding that pothole.  

Families going out and about on foot need to take special care in crossing busy roads and in keeping hold of toddlers’ hands in car parks and shopping areas.      

Road accidents

Road accidents make up around 1 in 15 of all deaths of children aged 5 to 14. They also cause serious injuries.

Thanks to concerted efforts by government and local organisations, these numbers have been falling steadily. You can play your part in reducing the numbers still further by advising parents or practising road safety with the children you look after.

Remember that drivers have a really important part to play – speed is literally a matter of life and death for children in road accidents. So if you drive yourself, or work with parents who drive, there’s a lot you can do to keep children safer on the roads.

It can be hard knowing how best to teach your child to stay safe. Here we help you to break it down and keep it simple:

Pedestrians – younger children

  • Get young children into the habit of holding your hand or use walking reins

  • Ask questions while you’re out to help them understand simple ideas like ‘fast’ and ‘slow’

  • You can start teaching the Green Cross Code from age five, encouraging children to stop, look, listen and think

  • But they won’t always remember safety rules, especially if they’re excited or spot a friend across the road

  • Children will copy what you do, so try to avoid stepping into the road without checking for traffic first. If you can do the right thing, it will help them get into good habits.

Pedestrians – older children

  • Children find it difficult judging the speed and distance of traffic until they’re at least eight. Accidents peak around 12, as children start making independent journeys

  • Children learn by doing and practising. If they’re moving to a new school, help them practise the route over the holidays. Where are the safe places to cross? What should they do if they see their bus and they’re on the other side of the road?

  • They can be mesmerised by their mobiles, so remind them not to talk or text on their phones or listen to music while crossing the road.

Around the car

  • If a car is reversing in a car park or a driveway the driver may not be able to spot small children if they are below the level visible from their rear or side windows. It’s safest to hold your child’s hand in car parks just as you would when crossing the road.

  • Store your car keys safely to reduce the risk of your child getting hold of them and starting the car.

In the car

Cycling

  • Get your child into the habit of wearing their helmet. If you cycle as a family, remember to wear yours too.

  • Look out for cycle training. Many schools offer courses to help children gain practical skills. Driving – speed is everything when it comes to a child’s chances of survival. They’re 3.5 times more likely to die if hit by a car doing between 30-40 mph. 

  • Keep an eye on your speed.

  • Keep your phone in the glove compartment so it can’t distract you.

    Find out more about cycle safety


More information

Road safety for children - free factsheet to download