To coincide with schools opening next week and children walking to school, health professionals from Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust are urging parents and teachers to make road safety awareness a top priority.
Research shows that young children cannot judge how fast vehicles are going or how far away they are (Think.Direct.gov.uk). It is little wonder then that during just 2014, 187 children aged 0-4 were killed or seriously injured while on foot in the UK, while some 85 cyclists aged 8-11 were killed or seriously injured.
Cathy Allen, Care Group Manager at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust who oversees school nurses, said:
‘September is when children return to school and a time when our roads are busy. This coupled with the weather getting colder and the days becoming darker results in our roads becoming more and more dangerous. As a result, it is important children are made aware about road safety at a young age. Practicing and talking about how to remain safe on the roads early on prepares them for later in life when they walk alone.
“The number of people texting and making calls while walking is huge, and these distractions can lead to people getting hurt. While most parents are conscious of safety both outside and inside their homes, research shows that accidents do occur during peak times around school pick-ups and dinner times.”
The Trust has some top tips to keep families safe when walking to and from school and other journeys:
- Make holding hands your number one rule for when walking together.
- Teach your child the Green Cross Code – Stop Look and Listen.
- Wear something reflective or brightly coloured when walking in the dark.
- If you are using a buggy/pushchair on a hilly street, strap your wrist to the buggy handle, then if you slip and let go, the buggy won't roll away.
- Ask your school or Local Authority about cycle training in your area. Your child shouldn’t cycle on roads until they have been trained.
- Check your child’s bike to see if it’s roadworthy: look at brakes, tyres and lights/reflectors (when riding at dusk or at night you must have white front lights and red back lights and reflectors).
- Make sure the bike is the right size for your child.
- Make sure your child wears a helmet which fits and is worn correctly; it should not be pushed too far back on the head.
- Ensure your child wears some high-visibility clothing when cycling.
The largest numbers of child injuries occur between 8am-9am and 3pm-7pm. During these times there are around 16 deaths or serious injuries to children under 16 every week. For help and ideas on how to stay safe on the roads, visit www.brake.org.uk.
Lancashire Care also provides a school nurse text messaging service that enables children and young people between the ages of 11 and 19 to confidentially contact a school nurse for advice and support with physical and emotional health. The service caters for children and young people, enabling them to send messages during and outside school hours. School nurses in Lancashire can be contacted on 07507 330510 and in Blackburn with Darwen on 07507330509 with responses sent Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.