Guidelines on Child Road Safety Education (CRSE): 9 Global Road Safety Rules for Children
You can monitor your children at home to ensure that they behave in a safe manner, and when it comes to the outdoors, it is important to instill behaviors that ensure their safety, and it is necessary to recognize the importance of introducing children to basic traffic safety rules and the risks of not doing so. Based on the global road casualty statistics, someone dies every 30 seconds somewhere because of road traffic crashes, and the number is rising. As a nation with rapid Motorization and population growth for the last three (3) decades, Malaysia does observe such a worrying scenario though at a lower scale. Without an increased effort to counter such a trend, the country will see road traffic crashes be at par with HIV/AIDS as a cause of death by 2030. The vulnerable road users, specifically the pedestrians will suffer the most as the focus of road environment design is still expected to be on motorized traffic. (Miros, “Evaluating Road Safety Risks at Schools in Selangor: An iRAP Approach”, MRR No.395 2021).
Road safety awareness for children
Road accidents are one of the leading causes of deaths and injuries worldwide. According to an NDTV report, 17 people die every hour in India due to road accidents. Globally, according to UNICEF report, more than 1,600 children and adolescents die every day from preventable injuries. Of those injuries, road traffic crashes represent the leading cause of death (https://www.unicef.org/health/injuries). While, according to WHO report, globally, around 186,300 children under 18 years die in road traffic crashes annually, and road traffic injuries are the leading killer of children aged 15-17 years worldwide. Two times as many boys as girls die in road traffic crashes. In addition, rates of road traffic deaths among children are 3 times higher in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries. Most road accidents occur due to human error by pedestrians and drivers. Road behavior is usually reckless because of not recognizing the importance of traffic rules and basic etiquettes, with children also being victims in these unfortunate situations, it is important to start teaching them about road safety early in life.
Why are there so many children involved in road traffic accidents?
• Children are at risk of road traffic injuries for a number of reasons.
• Younger children are limited by their physical, cognitive and social development, making them more vulnerable to road traffic incidents than adults.
• Because of their small stature, it can be difficult for children to see surrounding traffic and for drivers and others to see them.
• In addition, if they are involved in a road traffic crash, their softer heads make them more susceptible to serious head injury than adults.
• Younger children may have difficulties interpreting various sights and sounds, which may affect their judgement regarding the proximity, speed and direction of moving vehicles.
• Younger children may also be impulsive as they find hard to cope with more than one challenge at a time.
• As they grow older, children of adolescent age are especially prone to take risks, compromising their safety on the road.
• In general, roads are planned without sufficient consideration of the specific needs of children. (For further details, please refer to a new document called "Ten strategies for keeping children safe on the road” published by WHO on the occasion of the Third United Nations Global Road Safety Week (4–10 May 2015).
In reality the safety awareness begins at home, and they are usually the parents, who guide their children through demonstration and practicing of various rules and regulations pertaining to road traffic. In the endeavor to raise children who are fully aware of basic safety habits, you need to blend different styles of education and training when it is about sharing facts about road safety for kids.
9 Global Road Safety Rules for Children
• Cross the road after looking in both directions
The thoughtfulness of children crossing the road is enough to make any adult apprehensive, because the unpredictable movements and natural recklessness of a child can cause accidents. The basic rule is that young children should not be allowed to cross the road without adult supervision, and as children grow, they should not be allowed to go outside until they learn how to cross roads on their own. Make sure they understand the importance of stopping and looking both directions on the road before crossing.
• Read and interpret road safety signs
Children should be aware of traffic lights and basic signals. When the parents are driving with their child, it is the perfect time to teach them the difference between red and green lights, and what a yellow light means. Moreover, teach children about pedestrian signals too because the symbol of the person walking is the symbol most commonly seen at most intersections and the ability to interpret basic signs can be the basis for long-term education, and exposure to a broader set of rules associated with road traffic safety.
• Focus on the road
1. Road safety for children begins with the importance of thinking, and they must be taught to pay attention to their surroundings and be responsive to their feelings. Car horns and engine sounds indicate an approaching vehicle even before it is visible, and children should be taught to listen to it when crossing.
2. There are other habits that lead to accidents, and among them is that some children love their phones, and everything from games, music and videos to text messages that can distract them, and make sure that your child understands that his smartphone must remain in his pocket at all times while crossing the road.
• Avoid running in the streets
Young children cannot understand the distinction between a safe playground and any other open space, and this is extremely dangerous. Children should be warned not to run when near, or when crossing, the road. Running in open spaces with vehicles approaching is dangerous and can lead to falls near moving vehicles, which can cause a serious accident and even result in a death.
• Use sidewalks when walking
Keep children off the roads and make them aware that the sidewalk is the only area they should be in, this rule should be reinforced even on empty streets.
• Avoid blind spots
Children should be taught never to cross at a curve or between parked cars, and they should be taught to check all blind spots before choosing a place to cross the road, because cars can suddenly appear on curves while pedestrians are not fully aware of any oncoming vehicles because of the blind spot. The same reason applies when crossing between stationary objects; such objects prevent them from getting a full view of the space around them and can pose a danger.
• Bicycle safety rules
1. Wearing a helmet is mandatory.
2. Bike maintenance is very important.
3. Using a bicycle light is very important.
4. Children must ride bicycles in safe areas.
• Car safety rules for children
1. Seat belt must be fastened.
2. Children should be taught never put their hands out of the moving vehicle.
3. It is preferable that children not sit in the front seat.
• Bus safety tips
1. Children should be warned not to stand near the moving bus door.
2. Children should also not move around the aisle of a moving bus.
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About the Author
Dr. Hafiz Abbas holds a PhD in Usuluddin from Universiti Sultan Azlan Shah (USAS), Malaysia. He is well versed with Islamic theology, Seerat-un-Nabi (SAW), and principles of Hadith. In addition, he is a teacher of Arabic.
Edited by: Ch. Mahmood Anwar
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