ICBC’s top five pedestrian safety tips for parents

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What your child needs to know about road safety ahead of Safe Kids Week

May, 2009 – ICBC is marking Canada’s annual Safe Kids Week (www.safekidscanada.ca), May 25-31, by helping parents teach their children about essential pedestrian road safety tips.

Walking is a great, environmentally-friendly and healthy way for your children to get around, but if they don’t follow the rules of the road it can also be very dangerous. There are approximately 100 incidents and 110 injuries involving child pedestrians each year in BC. This means that most incidents result in a child being injured.

Here are ICBC’s top five pedestrian safety tips for parents to share with their children:

No. 1 � Make it fun: Too often we preach to our kids � telling them what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Kids hate that, so make your road safety teaching fun while still treating it as a serious issue. Sparking their enthusiasm for road safety will help keep your children safe and encourage them to share all the things they learn with their classmates and friends. On your next walk through your neighbourhood, try a fun and interactive game by having your children point out all the traffic signs you see and ask if they know what they mean. You can also p ractice how to get to and from school safely with your child, and make it fun by also drawing the route with them. In addition, remember, even older children need to be reminded about road safety. Try rewarding them for following the steps to safely crossing an intersection or coming up with solutions to intersection safety hazards they notice.

No. 2 � Be a role model: Parents are the number one role models for any young child so make sure you set a perfect example for them when teaching them about pedestrian safety around roads. If you are not modelling the behaviour you want your kids to emulate, then don’t expect them to be safe around roads. If your child sees you jaywalking, they will think it is okay to do and will do the same thing. The most common road safety error made by kids is in not finding a safe place to cross. Make sure you teach you child to cross at safe intersections that have a pedestrian crossing light or a marked crosswalk whenever possible.

No. 3 � Focus on the basics: Kids will digest information about serious issues when it’s kept simple and relevant for them to understand. Therefore, begin your pedestrian safety lessons with the key basics that you learned as a kid, and which are still relevant today. A great example is how to properly cross at intersections:

  • Stop: Before crossing, always stop at the curb. Make sure all vehicles have stopped.
  • Look: Look left and right for oncoming vehicles. Then look again over your shoulders for vehicles that might be turning. Teach your kids to keep looking for approaching vehicles as they cross.
  • Listen: Listen for approaching traffic that you can’t yet see.
  • Make eye contact: Children must assume that drivers have not seen them whenever they are around roads. Even if the walk signal is on, teach your children to make eye contact with drivers before they cross.
  • Walk: Teach your kids to never run when crossing a road.

No. 4 � Mark out safe areas: Focus on teaching your kids where to position themselves when they are around roads to ensure they are in as safe a position as possible. Children should always walk on the inside edge of a sidewalk � this way they are less exposed to traffic. If there isn’t the option of walking on a sidewalk, teach your kids to always walk facing oncoming traffic so they can see approaching vehicles and make eye contact with drivers.

No. 5 � Park it: Parking lots, or any areas where cars commonly park, require special attention. Vehicles can back up or move without warning and can do so quickly. Parking vehicles can be a complex manoeuvre too, and while drivers should always be looking out for pedestrians they can often be distracted when parking. In addition, it is often tough for drivers to spot pedestrians � especially small children � when they are walking around or between parked cars. When walking with your child, avoid any unnecessary shortcuts through parking lots.

ICBC provides free road safety materials to schools across BC. The materials are unique to each grade level and encourage road safety among students with fun and interactive activities. For information on ordering these materials and for more safety tips, go to icbc.com and click on ‘road safety’.