Safe on the Streets
Children are at a distinct disadvantage on the roads, whether they're out walking, cycling or rollerblading.
A child's field of vision is one-third narrower than an adult's. Their smaller field of vision, coupled with their under-developed peripheral vision, means they simply don't see many of the dangers around them on the road.
Children also can't determine the direction of sounds. Even if your child has been taught to listen for traffic sounds, be aware they can't consistently determine whether the sound is coming towards them or moving away.
Smaller children, in particular, believe vehicle headlights are "eyes" and that the oncoming vehicle can "see" them. They also overestimate their own abilities, are easily distracted and are prone to sudden movement (running out from behind a parked car to chase a ball, for example).
And, of course, their smaller stature can make them more difficult for drivers to see.
Experts agree that children under the age of eight should not be allowed on roadways without close supervision. They cannot be trusted to make appropriate, safe decisions until they reach that age.
You can make sure your child is safety aware at any age. Teach your children to play safe:
- Keep young children away from roadways. Insist they never cross the street without holding your hand.
- Teach them the "statue" game. Whenever a vehicle is approaching, everyone (including the parent) "freezes like a statue" until the vehicle passes.
- Insist your children wear bicycle helmets when out cycling.
- Help your child understand that vehicles are not "alive" and that they must be treated with caution.
- Teach them to always make eye contact with drivers before crossing at pedestrian crossings.