Children in Traffic

Children are not little adults, but we often expect them to act as adults. Road crashes are the biggest killer of school age children. Investigation of crashes shows that young children do not have the skills and abilities needed to be safe in traffic on their own.

Why are children at risk?

• Young children are less likely to take notice of objects not directly in front of them. Unless they deliberately turn their heads they may not notice vehicles to their right or left.
• Children have trouble judging the speed of cars. They let a slow car pass and cross in front of a fast one.
• Young children often have problems working out where sounds are coming from. They may expect traffic to come from the wrong direction.
• Because children are small, they cannot always see over bushes or parked cars. This also means they cannot be seen easily by drivers either.
• Often children concentrate for only a short time. In traffic, this can be very dangerous.
• Because they are constantly on the move, children have trouble stopping at the kerb. They may dart out into traffic.
• Young children cannot be relied on to use safe behaviour consistently. They may behave differently when they are with other children and forget about traffic.

Children up to 5 years old

• Hold your child’s hand when you are near traffic and while crossing roads.
• Explain what you are doing when you cross the road together. This helps your child to understand how you decide when it
is safe to cross.
• Ask your child, ‘Where could traffic come
• Set a good example for your child to copy.
• Don’t let your child ride a bicycle in or near
• Make sure you get your child in and out of the car on the kerb side.
• Insist that children wear an appropriate and properly adjusted child restraint or seat belt on every car trip.
• Involve your child on choosing safe places to play.
• Ask at your child’s preschool if the ‘Starting out Safely’ program is used.


children in traffic northern community news2

From 5 – 10 years

• Explain traffic movement using words such as fast, slow, near, far.
• Talk about signs and traffic lights. Identify & discuss places where safe to cross the road – away from curves or bushes which might hide a child from view.
• Teach your child how to cross roads. Children must first stop at the kerb. Next, they need to look and listen for traffic and then decide whether it is safe to cross. (The STOP, LOOK, LISTEN and THINK process.)
• Make the trip to school together along the safest footpaths and use safe crossing places as an example for your child to copy.
• Arrange for your child to be supervised on the way to and from school and during after school activities.
• Only let your child ride a bike in a park, playground or schoolyard – never on the road without an adult
• Insist that your child wears a properly fitted and securely fastened bicycle helmet that meets the Australian Standard AS 2063.
• Insist that your child wears an appropriate and properly adjusted seat belt or child restraint on every car trip.
• Ask at your child’s school what traffic safety programs are being taught.

From 10 – 13 years

• Check your child always stops, looks, listens & thinks when crossing the road.
• Talk to your child about road laws in simple terms. Go for rides and walks together.
• Plan together safe routes to school and places your child often rides.
• Talk about where the child can safely ride. Insist that an approved, properly fitted and securely. fastened bicycle helmet is worn every time the child rides a bike.
• Make sure your child wears colours that are easy to see.
• Insist that properly adjusted seat belts are worn on every car trip.