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Road safety is an important skill to teach from an early age. Learning road safety skills early helps to see a child through the rest of their life, encouraging them to be responsible road users when they get older. But how, as a family, can you focus on good road safety and ensure you always set the best example? Read our guide for more on how the whole family can take a safety-first approach when out and about.
With more than 37.5 million cars on the roads in the UK, and with most families having access to a vehicle, car safety is a good place to start.
Whether you’re driving your own car, or having a lift, there are basics which all parents should practice when hitting the road:
Car seats and seat belts
Having the correct car seat for your child, based on their size and age, is a legal requirement and is essential for the safety of your little one, should you have an accident.
Children should use a car seat until they reach the age of 12 or are 135 centimetres tall – whichever comes first. Follow the government’s advice and learn more about choosing and fitting car seats here.
Get your children into the habit of wearing a seat belt from a young age and it will be second nature to them by the time they drive their own car or ride as a passenger in a friend’s vehicle.
Make sure you set a good example and always plug your own in too. Start your journey with a quick ‘seatbelts on’ as a reminder for the whole family.
Speaking of setting a good example, don’t be tempted to put your foot down, especially when the kids are in the car. You can be certain they will notice if you’re speeding – yes they may give a squeal of delight, but it’s also one of terror as well. Children don’t feel safe when they’re out of their comfort zone.
Speed limits really do save lives, so stick to the limit for the road you’re on and explain to your children why speed limits are so important.
Whether you’re heading to school, to the shops or to visit family, walking as a family is an opportunity to reinforce the Green Cross Code with the following steps:
Find a safe place to cross the road. Avoid crossing between parked cars, on a blind bend or on the brow of a hill.
Stop before you reach the kerb and ensure you can see the traffic from both directions.
Look and listen
Look around for traffic and listen for the vehicles that you can’t see. Look to your right first, then your left, then right again before you cross the road.
If there is traffic coming, let it pass first. Once the traffic has passed, be sure to look for traffic again to ensure it’s safe to cross.
If you’re at a pedestrian crossing, wait until the cars have stopped or the green man is showing, before stepping into the road.
Look and listen again
If it is safe, walk straight across the road. Remember to look and listen as you cross. Be aware of all types of road users, not just cars. Avoid running across the road.
Keep looking and listening until you get safely to the other side.
Cycling as a family is a great way to spend quality time together, enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise. The following steps will ensure the whole family is kept safe:
Wear a helmet
Everyone should wear a helmet when riding a bike to reduce the risk of serious head injury. The helmet should be the right size and fit to provide maximum protection. The helmet should be in good condition and should be replaced every three to five years – depending on wear and tear – and, where possible, should not be second hand.
Check your bicycles
It’s important to check that your bikes are road-ready before you head out on your family ride. Check that your tyres are properly inflated, your brakes are in good working order, and that your seat is well adjusted for your height.
Don’t forget to check your lights – especially if you’re heading out in the evening or early morning, or when visibility is poor.
When cycling with children, it’s advised to ride in single file with the kids in front of you so that you can keep an eye on them during the whole ride.
If there is more than one adult on the trip, one can cycle in front of the children, to spot any potential dangers ahead, and the other can cycle behind.
Remember that unless the children are under ten, they shouldn’t be cycling on the pavements either.
Those are our tips for practising road safety as a family. If you have any tips you think we should include, let us know.
Author bio: Thompsons Solicitors is a leading UK personal injury law firm with a wealth of expertise in winning road traffic accident claims. Not only do our lawyers support people who have been injured on the roads, we also campaign to increase the awareness of road safety through our Stay Road Safe campaign.
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