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BLOG: Timmy’s tips for teaching road safety

Beep Beep! Day with Timmy Time, sponsored by Churchill Insurance, is just around the corner on Wednesday 18 March. It’s a great way to teach children, aged 2-7, about road safety basics, which is such an important subject to help them stay safe. Here at Brake, the road safety charity, we have lots of fun activities that educators can use with children aged 2-7 to help them learn about road safety basics.

Even the youngest children should learn basic road safety skills. Young children have a very different view of the world to grown-ups and aren’t always aware of just how dangerous roads are, even as a pedestrian. They concentrate on what’s in front of them and have difficulties judging how fast cars are going. Take a look at our video Speed Matters with Maddie Moate, which explains just what challenges children face. By taking part in a Beep Beep! Day, children can use the activities to help learn about and how their grown-ups can keep them safe when out and about.

Beep Beep! Day activities are so simple and easy to use with items that can be found in a toy box or around the house and will make road safety fun and memorable for the children.

It may seem obvious, but child seats and seat belts are important in keeping young children safe. Making sure they know this will allow them to help their grown-ups understand as well. You could teach this through a fun activity where you put a soft toy in a small car and push it down a ramp, with and then without a piece of ribbon or string as a seat belt. Talk to the children about what they’ve seen, and how easily the toy falls out without the ribbon on.

Another activity is to get the children to pretend they’re in a car (or a bus formation if you have a larger group of children) using cushions or chairs and again, ribbons or string as seatbelts. Ask the child acting as the driver to make sure their passengers are all belted up. Make sure every child has an opportunity to be the driver and act out some different scenarios, for example; get the driver to forget to tell the passengers to belt up, or one passenger doesn’t hear them because they’re distracted, and discuss what the consequences of this could be.

Very often, grown-ups use car seats that don’t fit a child’s height or weight correctly. Brake recommends that children use child seats until they’re 150cm tall. By weighing the child and measuring their height, you can let parents know what size they should be using to make the child much safer. Our Beep Beep! Day action pack includes a letter to parents about this.

When I was younger, I hated holding hands with my parents when I was out and about. However, holding hands is a really simple way to keep children safe, and one which can be understood with ease. Getting children to make a hand-print poster and then writing their name next to their handprint can help prompt discussions about why it’s so important to hold a grown-up’s hand. It may be also be a helpful reminder to write a message like ‘We hold hands when walking near roads'  in big letters and displaying it where parents/carers can see.

You can also ensure that children know how to keep safe by making sure they know where to cross the road safely. Teaching them to look for things like a zebra crossing, the green man on traffic lights and to stop, look and listen before they cross, will help keep them much safer and be more aware when walking near the roads.

Brake’s Beep Beep! Day activities can all be used to encourage learnings and follow the Early years foundation stage statutory framework. Take a look at our previous blog Why Beep Beep! Days are a great tool for understanding road safety basics for more information.

In 2018, 561 children aged seven or younger were killed or seriously injured on roads in Britain; 364 of these were pedestrians. [1] Through the Beep Beep! Day activities we can ensure our young children are aware of basic road safety that will stay with them and keep them safe.

For more information, and to get involved visit brakezebras.org/beep or call the team on 01484 550061.

About the author

Brake, the road safety charity works with communities and organisations across the UK to stop the tragedy of road deaths and injuries, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and support people bereaved and seriously injured on roads through an accredited helpline.

David is a third year Journalism student at the University of Huddersfield, working with Brake’s engagement team as part of his work experience placement.

Brake is partnering with PACEY to ensure that everyone working in childcare and early years has access to valuable resources to ensure their early years children can be safe when using our roads.

[1] Department for Transport (2019), Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: Annual report 2018, Table RAS 30024

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