Road Safety Week is the UK’s biggest annual road safety campaign that aims to help get communities, schools and organisations to talk about making our roads safer. It happens every year in November, and this year it’s the 15th to 21st of November.
What is road safety week?
Road Safety Week was created in 1995 by Brake, a road safety charity that works with communities and organisations across the UK to help stop road deaths and injuries. They work to make roads and communities safer for everyone and even support people who have been affected by road injuries.
Every year, they organise Bike Safety Week and thousands of schools, organisations and communities get involved. This year’s theme is Road Safety Heroes, celebrating the heroic work of road safety professionals and how everyone can play a part in making roads safer.
How to teach and practice road safety for children
Everyone uses the roads – whether you’re driving, cycling or walking… That’s why it’s important to teach children about road safety early on.
Kids are keen to watch what you’re doing and that’s how they learn a lot of their habits. Lead by example. Always wear your seatbelt properly, take care at road crossings and make sure your children understand the importance of staying safe whether they’re walking, cycling or sitting in the car.
Road safety for kids under 5
Even though they’re young, kids under 5 can start to learn some important rules and tips on road safety. You can teach them the difference between a road and a footpath, involve them in your decision on whether it’s safe to cross the road and introduce them to stop, look and listen. Always have them hold an adult’s hand when they’re near roads and teach them to walk on the side of the pavement furthest away from traffic. If your child is more likely to try to pull away, you may want to consider using safety reins.
Children of this age can also be taught the difference between traffic lights and signs, as well as waiting for the green walking man or a crossing warden, and a clear road before crossing.
Always have them wear protective equipment while cycling with you and wear your helmet as well to set an example. Teach them how reflective materials work with lights at night and have them choose bright colours to wear while they’re cycling.
Road safety for kids over 5
At this age, adults are recommended to hold kids’ hands when near a busy road. Teach them to not only stop, look and listen but also think. They can then identify where the safest cross points are and avoid crossing at bends or curves. Kids will then begin to understand cars’ visibility at various points along the road.
They should also be taught not to stick their hands (or any object) out the window whilst you’re driving and to hold onto a rail for support whilst standing in a moving vehicle (when on a bus or train, for example).
The safest way for kids to exit a vehicle is on the pavement side, so teach them to keep an eye out the window for anything in the way before they open doors and to avoid exiting a car or bus into the street if possible.
Road safety for kids over 10
As kids grow and mature, they may be ready to start walking nearby streets independently. This may depend on your own individual child and how confident you feel with them navigating on their own. Speak to them and gauge both their knowledge and understanding of road safety and see if they can interpret how far and how fast cars could be moving to understand how long they have to cross the road.
They should know some general rules and laws of the road and still wear bright colours to be easily seen by drivers and cyclists. When they’re out cycling on the roads, they should know to be mindful of the kerb and signal to drivers and those around them where they’re planning to go.
As they expand their stop, look, listen and think, they should learn to anticipate the movements of other people and vehicles. This skill will also be helpful once they start learning how to drive.
Rules of the road for staying safe as an adult
The THINK! Campaign is run by the Department for Transport to teach pedestrians, cyclists and drivers rules and laws for staying safe. It gives you statistics, facts and the laws that help keep everyone safer on the roads.
For example, speed is one of the main factors in fatal road accidents. The speed limit laws are in place to reduce the number of people driving at unsafe speeds. It also says that while the speed limit is the absolute maximum for that road, it’s not wise to drive at that speed if the conditions aren’t safe.
For cyclists, hanging back at junctions avoids you getting caught in a lorry’s left-hand turn, which is how a 3rd of collisions happen.
A study conducted by Vodafone reveals that 65% of cyclists say that their friends and family worry about them while they are out on the road*. It’s important to keep the conversation going around safety and equip yourself when you’re on the road. For example, the Curve Bike light and GPS tracker can help alert drivers around you to your movements and any sudden braking. It also includes impact detection and help alerts if you happen to have a fall.
Tips for crossing the road safely for everyone
Teaching your child from a young age to press the signal, wait for the green man and only cross the road when it is safe to do so is important in their safety. Lead by example by waiting for the signals even if the road is clear, no matter how many other pedestrians are crossing without the signal.
To cross the road safely, you and your child should understand the different types of crossings you could encounter:
Zebra crossing: The best-known type of pedestrian crossing marked with black and white stripes on the road and flashing yellow beacons. Approaching drivers must stop to allow pedestrians to cross safely.
Pelican crossing: Controlled by traffic lights, pedestrians press a button to request a crossing. Once the light changes and the green man appears, they can cross. Drivers will stop at a red traffic signal that will flash amber. If pedestrians are still in the crossing, drivers must wait, but if it’s clear, they can move on.
Puffin crossing: Similar to pelican crossings, however the signals are pre-set. The crossing cycle uses intelligent sensors to determine when the crossing is clear.
Toucan crossing: These are incorporated into cycle routes. They allow cyclists to cross without dismounting their bikes and are controlled by the Pelican-type signals. Drivers treat them as they would any other crossing. With these crossings, a green cycle signal will show ahead of the main green light to give cyclists the opportunity to get ahead of other vehicles, which reduces the risk of injury.
School crossing: When schools open and close, a warden may be stationed on the road near the school to control traffic and allow pedestrians to safely cross the road. They wear hi-vis jackets and hold a stop sign with a long red and white striped pole. When the warden indicates or steps out into the road, drivers must stop and leave space for pedestrians to cross. They can only move once the warden has left the road.
Staying safe at railway crossings: stop, look and listen
At railway crossings, there’s an extra level of concentration needed. Teach kids to stop, look and listen out for approaching trains. Look both ways before crossing even if the signal tells you to go – just in case!
Know what the lights or other signals mean. If a gate is closed, wait for railway staff to approach or, if none are present, look both ways to make sure the way is clear before opening. Some crossings have amber and red lights. If any light is illuminated, stop and wait. It means there’s a train on the way. If the crossing has a green light, then it’s safe to cross.
Some crossings have barriers (which may just be a half barrier). No matter what, don’t cross while the barrier is down. Even if you can’t see the train coming and think you can run across, it’s the safest option to wait for the signal that it’s safe to move across.
Teaching the whole family about road safety is a fundamental part in taking care around roads and vehicles. By teaching everyone to stop, look and listen as well as following general laws and rules on the road, you’re putting your best foot forward in staying safer together.