The UK’s biggest independent road safety charity IAM RoadSmart is reminding drivers and riders to stay alert to children walking or playing near roads without supervision in the coming weeks
While the advice from the government is to practice self-distancing and for children to remain at home, IAM RoadSmart says drivers and riders should expect to see more children out and about now the schools are closed due to the COVID-19 virus.
Traditionally children are at their safest when going to school in the morning and at highest risk after school when casualty rates rise between 3pm and 7pm, particularly before the clocks go forward.
Drivers and riders should be on full alert for children crossing the road at unexpected times as we all get used to the new realities of life under the ongoing coronavirus measures.
With many children distracted by their smartphones, their friends or just caught up in the moment, this could mean that they are paying less attention to the other road users around them.
IAM RoadSmart recommends every road user is extra vigilant around entrances to parks and play areas where children might be more distracted by the fun of the park than the dangers of the road. Youngsters aged 10-14 are most at risk, with road crashes accounting for over half of all unexpected causes of death in this age group (reference 1).
IAM RoadSmart also believes it’s important that everyone takes responsibility for minimising the pressure on the emergency services during this national health crisis - and that starts by concentrating on safe driving, if you have to be out on the roads.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “We urge all drivers to be aware that some youngsters will be out and about and possibly more distracted on their smartphone and chatting to their friends than looking out for traffic. Their minds are often not on crossing the road safely.
“Drivers need to have all their senses on alert and anticipate unpredictable behaviour on residential streets.”
IAM RoadSmart also reminds parents that they need to play a part in their children’s road safety knowledge, including regular reminders that they need to pay attention to their journey and not their smartphone screen.
This is echoed in the DaCOTA report on child road safety (reference 2), a project coordinated by the EU Commission.
It says: “The behaviour of parents is critical since their attitudes and interactions influence the behaviour of their children.”