This is a vision of the world from Brake, the national charity who promote road safety, campaign for safer roads, and look after those who have been adversely affected by accidents on the road.
Every 20 minutes, someone is killed or seriously injured on UK roads. Alarmingly, road crashes are the leading cause of the death of children and young people worldwide, and in the UK, more than six children under the age of 15 are killed or seriously injured on roads every day, mainly while walking or cycling. These events are preventable with proper education and a change in our behaviour and attitude towards road safety. (Statistics from Brake website).
Road Safety Week is the UK’s biggest road safety campaign and each year, millions of us heed the call and try to raise awareness about the issues and campaign for safer roads either nationally or locally in our own areas. It is coordinated annually by Brake, and this year, the week runs from the 15th to the 21st November and actively encourages schools, nurseries and childminders to get involved in the events and educate our children about road safety. The theme for 2021 is Road Safety Heroes, which aims to celebrate the heroic work of all road safety professionals, thanking them for their efforts and acknowledging the important part they play in keeping us all safe. There are a lot of people involved in road safety and it isn’t just the obvious ones such as the police, fire and ambulance crews who attend accidents. There are many unsung heroes up and down the country who help too: from the crossing guards who assist near school crossings, the people who design our roads in the first place, to those who keep watch over us from traffic control observation centres, and the people who clear up and fix the roads in the event of an accident. Each one is doing their bit to keep us safer and helping us take responsibility for own safety and that of other people.
Road safety for early years
It’s never too early to start teaching our children about road safety and the organisers of Road Safety Week have come up with some specific resources and advice especially for early years educators which help make the topic fun and exciting. They are mindful that when it comes to talking about road safety for this age group, they need to get the messages across without scaring children, so the content has to be sensitive and age-appropriate. To this end, they have produced a short video about Road Safety Heroes which is tailored towards early years and KS1 children, and a number of different resources which can be downloaded from their website after signing up. These include things like:
- A Road Safety Heroes card game with simple matching and counting games to introduce these heroes
- Fact sheets to help you talk about the different people who are Road Safety Heroes
- Lesson plans for English/PSHE/Citizenship and Art
- An assembly presentation with ideas of how to run a Road Safety Heroes awards ceremony at your school or setting (you can purchase special stickers and certificates on the website)
- Posters, colouring and activity sheets
- Postcards to colour and send home to parents
- A recipe for traffic light biscuits
You can access these at a dedicated part of the Brake website called Zebras so you won’t be stuck for ideas or resources.
Brake has identified the key messages to get across to early years children, which are:
- Always hold hands with a grown-up when walking near roads
- Always cross roads at safe places and hold a grown-up’s hand
- Always sit in a child seat when travelling by car
The best way to teach these messages is through play, modelling good behaviours and using the 5 senses to help children remember the messages, so using songs, role-plays, rhymes, stories and actions are all good kinaesthetic learning styles to adopt at this age.
Remember to educate your staff too
As early years practitioners, it is also vital that you ensure your staff are fully aware of their safeguarding responsibilities when it comes to road safety and that you always have adequate staff: children ratios when walking outside of your setting. This is where risk assessments come in and you should make sure that you have conducted robust risk assessments and planned your routes carefully whenever you take children out on the road. Being prepared and leading by example is important and there are a number of risk-reducing actions you can take when walking or cycling including:
- Wearing high visibility jackets
- Wearing cycling helmets when on scooters or bikes
- Staying on footpaths and using the safest routes even if they are longer (e.g. underpasses and bridges)
- Finding a safe place to cross (Pelican crossing, zebra/pedestrian crossing)
- Stopping and waiting until it is safe to cross a road
- Looking and listening out for traffic each way before crossing
Other ways to get involved in Road Safety Week
- Invite a road safety expert into your setting to give a talk
- Hold a Road ‘Safe-Tea’ Day by inviting people to your setting for tea and cake or a coffee morning. You can raise money for Brake or use it to raise awareness of road safety issues in your area
- Fundraise for Brake to help people adversely affected by road traffic accidents
- Hold a dressing up day encouraging everyone to dress up as their favourite Road Safety Superhero
- Campaign for better road safety in your area by writing to your MP or local councillor
Road safety matters, and by engaging children and young people with key road safety issues and working together in your local communities to improve road safety, we can create safer spaces and mobility for all, be that walking, cycling, in a private vehicle or a public bus; we can help create safer, greener environments, encourage active and healthier lifestyles, and prevent road traffic tragedies to ultimately save lives.
“We want a world where everyone is free to move in a safe and healthy way, every day. We work to stop road deaths and injuries, support people affected by road crashes and campaign for safe and healthy mobility for all.” - Brake website