As parents, we have three things in mind during our children’s younger years – safety, safety, and safety. As drivers, we place the same principle on a pedestal.
We can cause our own anxiety thinking about all the hazards our children can encounter around cars. These could be as simple as playing near a kerbside, sitting out of sight in a driveway, or drivers speeding despite looking both ways. There is any number of potential dangers involving cars; even so, we can prevent any unfortunate accidents.
According to a report by the Australian Government Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, road accidents involving children (between the ages of 0-14) is on the decline, during the decade of 2001-2010, 4440 children were injured, 204 of those fatally, in motor vehicle accidents. 66% of these incidents occurred around the home.
Things you can do to reduce risk
Children between the ages of 2 and 5 may be adventurous but have poor spatial awareness. They may focus on one object without considering other moving objects – chasing a ball into the street as a car approaches, for example. This means it is crucial for parents to keep their children within their line of sight when playing or walking near roads.
Many newer vehicles have rear-reversing cameras or proximity sensors installed to alert drivers of objects – such as stationary children – behind the car. In some cases, narrow driveways obstruct proximity sensors, which confuse readings. You should always do a visual check before backing out, or make sure children are safe in a different area (i.e., in the house.)
Some more extreme measures are to make driveways and garages “off limits” for young children to play in or teach children to “wave goodbye” from a front window instead of outside.
How to make your kids road safe and street smart
At all stages of a child’s development, the best way to teach a critical rule is learning by imitation. To instil safety around cars and the road, it’s as simple as leading by example. This means involving children in safe practices around roads, such as Stop, Look, Listen and Think before crossing a road, and holding their hand when it is safe to cross.
Other practices is to make sure your child is restrained or sitting facing a kerbside seat, so they get used to getting out through the safest door. If you have more than one child, make a rule that everyone has to get out through the kerbside door.
Though it is tempting to treat kids with “kid gloves,” teaching them and giving them plenty of practice will stand them in good stead later on in life.