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Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Promoting child pedestrian safety

While we frequently discuss strategies that can be implemented in order to make roads safer for travel, those discussions are usually centred around adults; after all, these are the individuals using the road, and therefore, are the ones setting its climate of safety (or danger). However, there is a contingency of road-sharers that deserve just as much of our attention when it comes to planning for safety: children pedestrians. This group is just as present as any other group when it comes to street activity, but because of their size and age, tend to be the most vulnerable. How can we protect them from senseless fatalities?

Increase awareness in your neighbourhood
Very simply, people remember what they are constantly reminded of, so it stands to reason that if your community does a good job of being regular with reminders of the importance of child pedestrian safety, attention to this matter will automatically increase. You can do your part in this regard by being proactive. If your community already has launched an initiative to this end, chances are they are only too happy to provide you with free materials, like brochures and posters, for you to circulate. Making these available in your workplace will get the word out, and demonstrate your responsibility in the matter. If your neighbourhood does not have such an initiative in place, don't be afraid to launch it yourself—it's much easier than it sounds, and will set you apart as a trustworthy leader in your community. The key points you want to highlight are the importance of sharing the road with all users, as well as the psychological, financial, and environmental benefits of reducing accidents. If you are at a loss for where to begin, feel free to ask neighbouring communities to borrow some of their material. Chances are, they will only be too happy to help.

Getting involved on municipal and provincial scales
While getting involved on a provincial scale does not necessarily require the degree of extroverted proactivity as is demanded on sub-municipal levels, it is just as critical. Recognizing opportunities for changes takes a keen mind, and a commitment to the cause. Your part is to encourage officials to promote laws and practices that make roads safer. Examples of such measures that you might lend your vocal support to include an increase in sidewalks, as well as traffic calming structures like speedbumps and roundabouts. When new communities are being developed, or when old communities are being updated, encourage those who have a say in how the plans for the roads will develop to make pedestrian safety a priority in their designs.

Education

Although we, as adults, are primarily responsibility for the safety of children pedestrians, this does not mean that children should be treated as passive objects in their own safety. While being young makes them vulnerable, that same factor makes them excellent candidates for effect education about safety. Children are efficient learners whose minds retain what they are taught remarkably well. Capitalize on this property by teaching them about safe walking. Ensure that they are aware of community specifics, such as the safest routes to walk by, as well as those routes which should be avoided. Encourage practices, such as crossing streets only at intersections with signs or traffic lights, looking both ways before crossing a road, and making eye contact with drivers before passing in front of their vehicles. While children are young, this is the ideal time to teach them to be focused pedestrians, who do not become engulfed in distractions (such as electronics) that can prove fatal. Engraining such habits in them now will also serve to make them ideal drivers in the future.

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