With everything you hear on the news all day, being on the road is a terrible move for children. Surprisingly though, it doesn’t feel so terrorizing when we take the same routes every day – it is just when our kids want to go out by themselves, we feel this urge to yell ‘CAREFUL!’ so many times. It is very impractical to accompany your kids everywhere all the time, they will eventually need to learn to tackle our unruly roads at some point.
True courage is being afraid of something and doing it anyway (dare I say with responsibility). So jump in right away and start teaching your kids the Road Safety Rules!
The Road Signals
The road signals are a very good place to begin teaching little kids about the rules of the road. Patiently explain to them what each colour means and how important it is to follow them. It is vital that you don’t break any rules in front of your child, all your efforts will go down the drain if they see you break them.
In a nutshell, tell them that Green means ‘Go’ and Red is for ‘Stopping’. Yellow is to slow down to prepare for the red light. The ‘walking Man’ or ‘Walk’ signal is for pedestrians. Tell kids that they are only supposed to cross the road when this light is green, but they still need to look to the left and right before crossing. Never ever cross the road when the walking man signal is red.
Sometimes, the signals vary slightly according to where you reside. Teach them those clearly, so they know what to expect. For example, some places show a hand symbol to stop pedestrians from crossing, which your kid might mistake for something else. Make it a point to clear all their doubts and take them around for a drive in the city introducing them to signals in the real world.
How to Cross a Road
Even if you never really leave your kid to go anywhere alone, there might be plenty of instances when she has to cross the road alone. Her bus might have dropped her on the wrong side of the road or she might have to cross the street to go to a friend’s house. The rules for crossing are:
- Look out for any signals guiding pedestrian crossing. If yes, follow them.
- Look to your right and then to the left to scour for any approaching vehicles.
- If there are any, wait until they pass to cross the road.
- Never cross at corners and bends.
- Never walk between stationary vehicles to cross the road.
- Don’t run or pause for no reason in the middle of the road.
It is generally accepted that the minimum age for a kid to be allowed to cross a road alone is at least eight years of age, so keep that in mind.
Paying Attention to the Road
If your kid wants to go out by herself, you need to tell her that no distractions are allowed on the road. No playing with slurpees or fidgeting with toys when they are out alone. Tell them this rule is important because, without attention, they might miss vehicles nearing them. Kids may not always be able to see an incoming vehicle, so teach them how to listen to a vehicle’s sound. If they hear a horn near a bend, they’re supposed to stay clear off the intersection.
This one is tough for kids to follow, but it is quite dangerous to let little ones run along the streets. Tell them to tame their spirits and refrain from sprinting or running.
Using the Sidewalks
Sidewalks are commonly ignored in India by the general public. It is largely up to us to inculcate this habit to our kids. Encourage your child to use the sidewalks when available. Strengthen the habit further by demonstrating it yourself. Whether the street is busy or not, sidewalks are the place to be if you are walking.
Sticking Hands (and Bodies) out of Vehicles
The immensely impulsive spirits of kids can all of us a sudden bubble up with excitement causing them to poke out hands and heads out of vehicles. This is obviously dangerous as hell and should in no way be allowed. Advise your kids about staying steady inside vehicles – if you don’t want your toddler to hear gory stories of being hit to death, you could tell them that a dragon will bite the hands of kids who put them out.
Be very strict in mapping out the play zones for your kid. Restrict them from playing in open streets or in parking spots. Kids should always be advised to get the help of elders in case their play stuff runs onto the road, instead of running behind to catch it. If your very young kids are playing near the streets where things like balls could run off, never leave them alone without adult supervision. It might be tough to watch over them on a daily basis, so try to organize a schedule with the other mom’s or dad’s of the children and take turns to watch them.
Hundreds of children every day take buses to school – so bus safety is an important part of road safety. Teach children to stay on the footpath until the bus takes off. Many accidents happen because of children beginning to walk right in front of the bus just after getting down. Their tiny figures might not be visible from the driver’s view when they are directly in front of the bus, too close. So it is very sensible to wait and stay until the bus takes off.
Also, the huge figures of buses have another disadvantage as well – they hide traffic from many angles. With a bus in your way, you have no way of knowing what’s coming at you. So point out these dangers to little kids and train them to stay careful near buses.
Seat Belts and Seat Restraints
Children are more vulnerable to injuries during accidents than adults; so it is very vital that they know how to ask for safety belts before boarding a car. Children under 14 years of age should use seat belts (and so should you) and proper restraints appropriate for their size and age. Teach them to ask for seat belts whenever they are travelling – they will spread the good habit forward and end up saving those with them.
Cycling on the Roads
Cycling is great fun and is super healthy too, just make sure that it is safe for your kid. Buy them certified helmets to wear while biking. Make sure that they are not distracted while cycling – don’t allow earphones or similar stuff while cycling. Make sure that the kid is old enough to understand traffic rules and is capable of judging distance and speed before letting them ride. If your child wants to ride in poor light, make sure they wear reflective clothing – use florescent or light coloured clothing during the day. Also, the cycle should have a back red light, a back red reflector and a front white light when going out in the night. If your kid’s bike uses a dynamo, the lights will go out the moment the cycle is stopped, so take this into account and let them ride accordingly.
Road safety is a long course which even many of us are yet to master. Habits reinforced in little kids can grow up strong as they get bigger, so starting early is a huge advantage. To further deepen the roots of the rules, you have to follow them yourself! Set a good example and stay safe on the road!
Anything you see we’ve missed? Have secret tactics that worked wonders in keeping your little ones tamed? Oh, share them with us here, please and help the world!