Walking is good for fitness and building confidence, and encouraging children to walk to school is a good idea, but it's important that children and teenagers cross the road safely.
The risk of a child pedestrian being involved in a road accident rises when they start school and then rises again at the start of secondary school.
Parents can help their children learn how to stay safe while on foot. There are also independent sources of information for children and teenagers.
Campaigns such as the Green Cross Code and regional Be Safe Be Seen activities help children to follow safety guidelines.
The Department for Transport's Think! website offers advice about road safety and the Tales of the Road campaign, which uses animated characters, tells a series of cautionary tales each focusing on a different aspect of road safety.
It is particularly important that children follow the rules in the Green Cross Code because research shows that young children can't judge how fast vehicles are going or how far away they are.
Find a safe place to cross
- If possible, cross the road using islands; zebra, puffin, pelican or toucan crossings; subways; footbridges or a crossing point controlled by a police officer, school crossing patrol or traffic warden.
- If there isn't an established crossing point nearby, choose a place where you can see clearly in all directions and where drivers can see you.
- Try not to cross between parked cars, on sharp bends or close to the top of a hill. Move to a space where drivers and riders can see you clearly.
- Make sure you can reach the pavement without having to walk around obstructions such as parked vehicles.
Stop just before you get to the kerb
- Don’t get too close to the traffic. If there’s no pavement, keep back from the edge of the road but make sure you can still see approaching traffic.
- Give yourself plenty of time to have a good look all around before you step on to the road.
Look all around for traffic and listen
- Look in every direction.
- Listen carefully, because you can sometimes hear traffic before you can see it.
If traffic is coming, let it pass
- Wait until any traffic has passed then look all around again and listen.
- Don’t cross until there’s a safe gap in the traffic and you're certain that there's plenty of time.
- Remember, even if traffic is a long way off, it may be approaching very quickly.
When it’s safe, go straight across the road
- Don't cross the road diagonally.
- Don't run across the road.
- Keep looking and listening for traffic while you cross in case there’s any traffic you didn’t see or in case other vehicles appear suddenly.
- Look out for cyclists and motorcyclists travelling between lanes of traffic.
Research has found that teenagers are easily distracted on the roads, especially when they’re in small groups of friends.
The following distractions are major causes of accidents among teenage pedestrians:
- talking to friends,
- listening to music,
- making mobile phone calls, and
- text messaging.
Crossing tips for teens
- Give the road your full attention when you're crossing, even if you're with a group of friends. Look out for them too.
- Don't use your mobile to talk or text while you're crossing.
- Don't listen to music while crossing the road as it's distracting. You won't be able to concentrate properly on the traffic.
- Don't take chances when you cross the road. Cars may not be able to stop, so wait for a big gap in the traffic.
- It's safer if you use a pedestrian crossing. There's often one only a short distance away.