Lost in Translation: Helping Little Ones Understand Pedestrian Safety in Their Terms
As adults, we have a bit of an advantage when it comes to staying safe as pedestrians. We are big, easy to spot targets that are generally predictable to other drivers. We understand what the cars around us will probably do next, and we know that just because a sign says it is safe to cross does not necessarily mean that it is true.
For Children the Standard Rules May Not Be Enough
For young pedestrians, especially those under the age of 10, the world looks entirely different. Distance and speed are more difficult to judge, and cars seem to be moving completely at random. Many children have the rules memorized after years of careful parenting, such as “Look both ways when crossing the road!” and “Only use the crosswalk to cross the street!” For these younger pedestrians, however, the standard rules may not be enough.
Below, we discuss some of the most misunderstood rules of safe walking, and how to adjust them for your kids:
- Always cross the street using a crosswalk. This rule is a gold standard, and there is little we can do to argue with it. Unfortunately, children often interpret this to mean that their safety is guaranteed by the little stripes of paint across an intersection. Make sure that children know to still look both ways (left, right, and left again) before crossing, and to look out for cars that are turning.
- Cars stop on red, and green means go. You do not need to confuse your child with explaining right-on-red rules, but make sure that they know to establish eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them to ensure that they are seen. Also, young children may have a difficult time visually judging a car’s speed, so teach them to recognize that cars are stopped when the wheels stop turning.
- Bright colors make you easily visible to drivers. Wearing the latest colorful trends is not enough to ensure that drivers see young pedestrians. Teach your children what could make it hard for drivers to see walkers, including parked cars, garbage cans, trees, and other obstacles.
While you cannot always be there to hold your child’s hand as they grow older, sharing these safety tips with them at a young age can help keep them safe for a lifetime. Share these safety tips with other parents of small children by posting this article on your social media account!
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