Bit of a serious post from me today, but I would love your thoughts on this.

We live on a very busy road and I have always been very aware of the need to teach Little Man road safety from the word go. He still doesn't quite get it, but every time we cross any road I try to involve him in the "stop, look, listen" routine.

But what worries me the most is that I am trying to teach him to use a pedestrian crossing if at all possible and yet these do not seem all that safe these days either.

You see, we live right next to a zebra crossing. Every day I tell Little Man to hold my hand and stop at the crossing and wait until the cars stop… and then we stand and watch several cars drive straight past us. And I'm not talking about cars which were practically on the crossing when we got there, I'm talking about those which had plenty of time to stop. I've even been in the middle of the road, crossing because the side nearest to me has stopped, and had cars zoom through the other side.

They did this when I was heavily pregnant, when I had a pram with a baby in, and now when I have a toddler by my side. It is honestly terrifying how little awareness there seems to be of the fact that this is a crossing and someone is waiting to cross. And I don't know which is worse, the cars that zoom by with their drivers seemingly oblivious to what is happening or those whose drivers look at me and shrug their shoulders as if to say, "well, what could I do?"

Um… you could stop!

And yet, I am used to this. I am super careful on this zebra crossing as I know what it is like. I am cross that this is the case, but it is what it is. What I was not prepared for, however, was the fact the same thing could happen at a pelican crossing – you know, the ones with traffic lights and a green man for pedestrians?

Last week I was in town and I saw the lights at the crossing starting to change to amber and then red. I knew I wanted to cross and so I sped up my pace to make sure I got to the crossing before the green man showed up. I got there just as the green man flashed on and the beeping started. The cars nearest to me had stopped and so I began crossing, all good so far… and then not one, but two cars zoomed through the other side right in front of me and a third car, whilst stopping to let me cross, had the audacity to honk her horn at me. And when I looked at the driver she shook her head at me as if I was in the wrong.

For a horrid moment I honestly thought I must have misread the situation, but one quick look at the traffic lights confirmed that there was a green man and these drivers had just gone straight through a red light whilst a pedestrian was on the road. How's that for terrifying?

It seems I'm not alone in this experience either. When I shared my story on Facebook I was greeted by several similar stories of drivers being so unaware of the road that they sped through red lights or turned when it was not safe etc. And it seems that it isn't only us pedestrians who have things to fear, other drivers seem to be struggling with the actions of other road users too.

But as I am trying to teach my son road safety, it is the safety of him as a pedestrian that most concerns me. That isn't to say I don't worry about his safety when we are in the car, because I do, but there will come a day when he wants to go out on his own and that's when I worry about having taught him enough road safety to remain safe. (Thankfully, this is a few years off yet, but the seeds of that knowledge begin now).

And I thoroughly accept that pedestrians can be just as dangerous too… I have seen so many people walk out in front of cars when they just couldn't be bothered to wait for the lights to change or walk those extra few yards to use a crossing. Why do we seem to have such a disrespect for how dangerous our roads can be?

For now, the only thing I can think of is to teach Little Man to always use a crossing if one is available and even if the cars seem to have stopped, to keep looking and listening both ways as he crosses the road… teach him to expect the unexpected. But is that enough?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. How have you taught road safety to your kids? And have you come across these kinds of problems?

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25 thoughts on “Road Safety: How do you keep your kids safe?”

  1. Pink Oddy writes some really great posts on this topic http://pinkoddy.co.uk/blog/2014/01/07/driven-to-distraction-safe-driving-tips-for-parents-guestpost/
    I firmly believe that the more of us who walk, rather than retreat to our cars as the ‘safer’ option, the safer our roads will become. I honestly think drivers are becoming more and more surprised to see anyone walking and half the time forget to look out for pedestrians, on the grounds we are becoming endangered species.

  2. It is frightening isn’t it. We have a zebra crossing in our village that hardly anyone stops at. You can stand there for ages with car after car going by without even slowing down. I’ve threatened to go and do a bit of a protest down there one day but haven’t yet! I am trying to teach my son road safety on the way to school at the moment which is all well and good but if there are drivers like that out there, you can only teach them so much can’t you.

  3. I worry about this terribly too. I always tell my children to wait until the cars have actually stopped because you just can’t trust people to stop at traffic lights or zebra crossings. The zebra crossing near us is terrible and there’s been a few accidents sadly!

  4. Roads are terrifying things, not just for children, but adults too. We seem to live in this world where everyone is in a big rush, and it is a sad sign of our times. To that end, waiting a few seconds at a zebra crossing or at the lights as people cross seems to bring out this horrid side of people (as you experienced with someone hooting their horn)and it really gets my goat. What on earth is the hurry?
    At our old place we didn’t have a crossing for my son to get from the bus stop to our side of the road, just a small island in the middle. I have always taught him to stop, look, listen, and the fact that we lost my cousin at 14 (10 years ago now), who was knocked over on a road, makes me even more fanatical about sticking to the rules.
    I always tell my boy to use a crossing where possible, even if his friends think it is okay to cross wherever (don’t get me started on jaywalkers), and remind him about what happened to my cousin. I tell him to wait until cars have come to a complete stop before starting to cross, as I know I fell foul to this when I was a teenager.
    Teaching children from a young age about road safely is a must, and I don’t know if it is still taught in schools like it was I was a kid, but I think it needs to be reinforced everywhere.
    Sorry for my ramblings, road safety is high on my priority list xx

  5. Oh gosh Michelle, no wonder you are so passionate about road safety, I’m so sorry you lost your cousin like that! I agree with you, we are all in such a rush that it seems we take risks left, right and centre. When I am on my own I will sometimes start crossing (at the crossing) when the cars nearest me have stopped because sometimes the other side seem totally oblivious until you are on the road itself (and still don’t always stop!) but only when I know I can be as safe as possible… whenever I am with my son I ALWAYS wait until both sides have stopped as I don’t want him to think it’s okay to cross until it is as safe as can be… to be honest I should do that myself even when on my own!

  6. Thanks for the link Abby, I shall check it out. As a non-driver (I have had a few “lessons” from my husband but nothing more) I walk everywhere and I am astonished how people get in their cars just to pop down the road or something as for me it is perfectly normal to walk for miles sometimes. I guess when the convenience is there you take it?

  7. Oh my goodness not stopping when you’re already on the zebra crossing must be terrifying. And for Little Man too. I’m so conscious of teaching our 3 year old road safety but her gut reaction is just to run out so perhaps we’re too early. We do talk to her about stopping and looking. Perhaps the answer is teaching him to be super aware even when on a crossing especially given there are some real idiots out there.

  8. I so agree with this! the thing I hate the most is drivers going through the zebra crossing and then mouthing ‘sorry’ at me through the window or ‘thanks!’ grrr! x

  9. Glad you’re Ok. I ofter worry about crossing the road with F, as i was hit by a cyclist who didn’t stop at the lights in london when I was 25. I thought i’d been hit by a car as the impact was so great. The only thing you can do is to keep leading by example and crossing at the right places and drilling them about road safety etc. If you can get the reg number in future I would call the police and notify them for dangerous driving. Scary world! x

  10. It’s a difficult one. I agree with all you say and think it is deplorable how cars can act on crossings. When I am at a zebra crossing, I defer to the cars, though I don’t believe this is how it should be, I know how they can whizz through even after you’ve started crossing. On pelican crossings I abide by the lights, but still check both ways as drivers can be crazy! I am a driver myself, and would never whizz through on even a flashing amber light (or green for that matter) if people were still crossing.

  11. I agree with Abby about more people walking being a good way forward. It scares me how many lights, crossings etc our council (Ipswich) expect motorists to navigate though, it’s actually really, really difficult to make sense of the 8 sets of stopping points within a 500m strip in one busy part of tome, none synched either.

  12. I have similar experiences with zebra crossings in our area – so much so that I would choose not to use one if there is another option as I believe drivers just don’t think they have to stop for them anymore. It is terrifying to hear your experiences on a pelican crossing. I think we need to teach our children to be incredibly vigilant and not to trust that drivers will stop. I am always terrified on pelican crossings of a motorcycle coming down the middle and going through the red light so I always carry on looking.

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