I have a vivid childhood memory of a boy, the same age as me crossing the road in West Hampstead only to be hit and instantly killed by a motorcycle. We were sat in traffic on the other side of the road and watched it happen before our eyes. There are details of this accident (too graphic to share) I will never, ever be able to erase from my memory. I was about 10.

Road deaths are the biggest ‘accidental’ cause of death of children and young people. This week is National Road Safety week 18 – 24th November and the theme for this year is tune in.

“Driver distraction is a major cause of death and serious injury in the UK. Driving is the most dangerous thing that most of us do on a daily basis and requires your full attention, but many drivers have a sense of over-confidence and feel cocooned in their vehicles, so attempting to multi-task is common.

While it’s illegal to use a hand-held phone to text or call at the wheel, around a third of drivers flout this law, and many others use a hands-free kit, despite both activities causing a dangerous distraction. Other distracting activities such as eating or smoking at the wheel have been shown to increase your risk of crashing, yet lots of drivers own up to it.”

I have to admit that while I feel fully in control of the car and a completely confident driver, I too find myself distracted at times, I think we all do, don’t we? We forget just what a dangerous machine it is that we are driving, what damage it can do… that it could potentially kill or seriously injure another human being. Checking that message that came through on your phone doesn’t seem so important after all.

Drivers, let’s make a concious effort to turn off our phones and not multi-task at the wheel. Mums and Dads, let’s teach our children to ‘tune in’ to the dangers of the road and how to keep themselves safe. Here are the top road safety tips for children from http://www.nidirect.gov.uk

On the pavement:

When walking near a road it is a good idea to:

  • hold your child’s hand – don’t let them run ahead
  • look out for and encourage your child to be aware of hidden entrances or driveways crossing the pavement
  • put reins on a younger child if they’re not strapped in a pushchair
  • make sure your child walks on the side of the pavement away from the traffic

It can be hard for motorists to see small children, especially when they are reversing, so take extra care. Never let your child go near a road alone or even with an older child.

Children are generally not ready to cross roads on their own until they are at least eight years old – and many will not be ready even then.

Crossing the road:

When the time comes to teach your child about crossing the road, remember the following:

  • always set a good example by choosing a safe place to cross and explaining what you’re doing
  • let your child help you decide where and when it’s safe to cross
  • tell your child that it’s safest to cross at a pedestrian crossing or a crossing patrol
  • tell your child not to cross where they can’t see far along the road
  • explain that they should not try to cross a road between parked cars; drivers won’t be able to see them very well and the cars might start moving
  • use the Green Cross Code with your child – explain that you have to stop at the kerb, then look both ways and listen for traffic before crossing
  • when it’s safe to cross, walk straight across the road and keep looking and listening out for traffic
  • remind your children to concentrate – they may be easily distracted, forget what they have been taught and dash out into the road
  • make sure that anyone else looking after your child follows the same road safety rules that you do

Pedestrian crossings

You might feel that pedestrian crossings are safe, but they can still be dangerous for children if they don’t take care.

Remember to:

  • explain that pedestrians have to wait on the pavement until all the traffic coming from both directions has stopped – only then is it safe to cross
  • explain that if there is an island in the middle of the road, your child should treat each half of the crossing as a separate crossing
  • tell your child it’s important to keep looking and listening while crossing, in case a driver has not seen them
  • warn your child to watch for cyclists or motorcyclists who might not have seen them
  • make sure your child can be seen easily – bright or fluorescent clothes are best during the day and reflective materials work well at night
  • always use a zebra or light-controlled crossing, or a school crossing patrol if there is one