In addition, some children are impulsive and have short attention spans, or they find it difficult to interpret traffic sounds and movements, which affects their judgement on how fast the vehicles are moving.
In recent months, several traffic accidents involving children have come to light. For instance, a 6-year-old boy riding a kick scooter was hit by a car near Holland Village in October this year. The dashboard camera footage of the boy on his scooter trying to cut across the road without first checking for oncoming traffic made its rounds on Facebook.
Young children should be taught the habit of raising one arm when crossing the road, which will increase their visibility to motorists.
Here are key rules that your little ones should know.
1. Hold an adult’s hand before crossing
Young children under the age of 6 should always be holding the hand of an adult before crossing the road, since kids are sometimes too small for drivers to notice.
2. Know their traffic lights
As soon as your tot learns to recognise and name colours, make an effort to point out to him that “Green means ‘go’” and “Red means ‘stop’” for the vehicles.
Stress that that when the green “walking man” symbol is lit, this indicates that it’s okay to cross, but once it starts blinking, he’ll need to wait on the footpath. The red “standing man” means that the cars are moving on the road, and he mustn’t cross.
3. Use footpaths and other road safety features
Remind junior not to veer onto the road, no matter how much more convenient it seems, even though it’s tempting to take a shorter route instead of staying on the footpath.
Tell him to always take these safer options when possible ― then point out road safety features like overhead bridges, underpasses and zebra crossings.
4. Stop and look before crossing
Your little one needs to learn the importance of stopping and looking before crossing the road as there could be oncoming traffic. The distance doesn’t matter ― whether it’s the small street your child has to cross after the school bus drops him off, or that short walk back from the neighbourhood park. He needs to first look to the left, then to the right, and to the left again. If there are no oncoming cars, it’s safe to cross.
Young children should be taught the habit of raising one arm when crossing the road, which will increase their visibility to motorists. At night, it’s also a good idea to wear light, or brightly coloured clothes.
Since some drivers are inattentive, always wait for the car to stop before taking that first step onto the road, even at pedestrian crossings.
5. Listen to sounds
Teach your tot to listen out for car horns and engine sounds. Do a little fun activity ― get your child to listen as a car approaches. Does the engine sound get louder or softer? Explain that loud noises mean that the car is nearby, while a faint sound means that the car is further away.
6. Know where they absolutely shouldn’t cross
There are key areas on the road where kids (and adults!) should avoid crossing at all costs.
Crossing at road bends are a big no-no because you can’t see oncoming vehicles, and they can’t see you. Tell them they should also never cross between stationary vehicles, as they can move forward or backward and run you over.
They should also never cross between stationary vehicles, as they can move forward or backward and run you over.
Make sure your family car has an appropriate child-restraint, and check that everything is safe. In the train or bus, make sure that your child knows that he should either be seated, or holding on to a handrail. Your child is at greater risk than you of getting hurt if the vehicle swerves or brakes suddenly because they are lighter and, hence, more likely to fall.
8. Be safe when getting off the vehicle
Junior’s attention tends to wander when he gets off a vehicle. For example, if he sees you standing on the footpath, he might rush down to get to you and risks tripping. Tell him to always make sure that the vehicle has come to a complete stop before alighting.
9. Don’t multitask
To ensure that your peewee has his full attention on the road safety rules, don’t let him read books, play with toys, or hold the iPad when he’s walking along the footpath or crossing the road. Always bring his attention to the traffic around him, and talk him through the rules.
10. Set an example
This last rule is for parents. If you’re encouraging junior to take the overhead bridge, refrain from jaywalking or using the iPad when crossing the road, then show them the right way as you’re your child’s best role model.
Be punctual. Most accidents happen when you’re in a rush , such as when you’re trying to dash across the road before the red man turns green in your favour, for instance. This shows junior that he can do something similar under certain circumstances, so he may be tempted to likewise in the future.
Finally, always keep an eye on your mini-me when there’s a road nearby. Excitable tots who can’t wait to explore their surroundings are masters at suddenly breaking free from their parents. Tell him to keep such moments for parks and gardens where he’ll have a lots of open spaces to scoot around, but definitely not near high-traffic areas.
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