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The best and most important road safety teacher is a parent/carer


Road safety education begins in the home at the beginning of a child's life. It is an accepted fact that children mimic the behaviours of those they spend the most time with. So the way you cross a road, ride a bicycle or drive a car sets an example for a child in your care. Much is made both anecdotally and statistically, about the high rates of death and serious injury amongst young (particularly male) drivers. The Road Safety Team believe much of the behaviour that causes this mayhem, needs to be addressed by shaping attitudes in responsible and safe road use right from the beginning of a child's development. A safe child pedestrian is more likely to become a safe cyclist and likewise a safe cyclist will become a safer and more responsible motorcyclist and/or driver.

Teaching road safety effectively involves theory, practice and example. But by far the biggest influence on a pre school child is the example their parent or carer sets. Teaching road safety should not be looked at as something special or a task to be tackled in isolation. Children are out and about with their parents/carers and will follow  their example good or bad. It's no good saying "don't do as I do, do as I say" because the subliminal message you send every time you cross a road, ride a bicycle or drive a car is "this is the way to do it ".

Parents should not wait for schools to teach road safety. Teaching road safety is the responsibility of parents, with schools and other agencies building on that foundation to give children good road safety awareness.


The facts are:

  • In 2011 2412 children (0 to 15  years old) were killed or seriously injured on the road and 1602 of them were pedestrians, many of them close to their homes
  • Boys are 5 times more likely than girls to be killed or seriously injured
  • Children aged 12 – 15 are the most likely to be killed or seriously injured.


Ages 1 to 4  Protect your Child

  • Never let a child less than 5 years out alone. They cannot cope with traffic, even if they are out with an older child.
  • Choose somewhere safe for children to play.
  • Playing on the pavement or in the road, however quiet, can be dangerous and should be avoided. If there is nowhere else for children to go, they must be supervised by an adult.
  • When children are out walking they should walk on the inside of the pavement, parents keeping a tight hold of their hands if not on their reins or in a pushchair.
  • Young children should never be allowed to ride a bike,trike,scooter or skate board on the road .
  • Whenever children are out walking, parents should hold their hands and talk about what they are doing and why.
  • As they become older start to  teach them the main points of the Green Cross Code.


Ages <7 to 9  Time for the Green Cross Code

From the age of 7 the six rules of the Green Cross Code should be explained.

  • Find a safe place to cross
  • Stop on the pavement slightly back from the kerb
  • Look  both left and right and all around
  • Listen ( some vehicles can be heard before they are seen)
  • Think ( you have to decide if its safe to cross)
  • Cross the Road in a straight line at a normal walking pace (keep looking and keep listening)

For a fun game to reinforce this message visit the official Tales of the Road  website.(opens in a new window)

When parents are sure their children know and understand the Green Cross Code, they should let them start by crossing the quiet roads where they have been practising. The child should be watched and tested before being allowed to cross alone.

Children, together with parents, should start to practice crossing busier roads together, doing this many times before allowing children to cross alone.
Once children are ready to make the journey to school alone, risk of incidents can be reduced further by making them easily seen, bright or fluorescent clothes show up best by day, especially in dull or misty weather, but fluorescent clothing does not work after dark.


Ages<10 to 15 Help them think for themselves

Parents should keep talking to their children about the dangers of traffic. Pointing out people who are endangering themselves or others.  Parents should check the routes to school and discuss together how to deal with any dangers and how to avoid them. 

Children should practice judging speed and distance of approaching vehicles on a busy road and identifying safe gaps for crossing.  Parents should stress to children that they should never blindly follow others across the road. They must always think for themselves.


Bedford Borough Council Road Safety Team      

 telephone (01234) 228336

Email road.safety@bedford.gov.uk


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