School drop offs and pickups are notoriously crazy times of the day. Families are rushing to cars, racing to school and navigating busy school traffic. Unfortunately, it’s times like these which present the biggest risks to your child’s safety.
We asked the team at the Georgina Josephine Foundation for some tips on safety around cars. Here’s what they advised.
The best way to manage your family’s safety around cars, is to plan your morning and afternoon routines so everyone (including children) can be in the right place at the right time.
Further, practising and teaching children some basic safety tips can help avoid incidents:
- Children should wait until mum, dad or other carer is ready and with them before going outside or into the garage. Create a safe place at home for children to wait, such as inside the front door, until you are ready to put them into the car. Make it safer still by having door handles too high for children to reach.
- Hold hands with your child when walking near roads, footpaths, driveways and car parks. Kidsafe and Kids and Traffic recommend holding children’s hands around vehicles until they are at least eight years old and closely supervising them up to at least the age of 10. Children can be impulsive and their brains aren’t always developed enough to switch between what they have learnt and what is happening immediately in front of them. For example, a child who has been taught about car safety will likely still dive to grab their hat when it blows off in the middle of the car park, before thinking about safety!
- Children should use the ‘safety door’ (usually the left passenger side door) to enter and exit the vehicle when parked in the street.
- Before getting into the car, take the long way around to the driver’s side to double check what is around the car, before getting in to drive.
- When collecting children from school or preschool of an afternoon, disembark the car and collect them from the school gate (or the designated pick up place at the school). Do not wait in the car for children to come to you (unless your school has a drive-through pickup arrangement).
- If children travel to and from school on a bus, wait with them safely back from the road until the bus has stopped, before approaching to get on. In the afternoon, make sure you are waiting for them at the bus stop, so you can hold hands and cross the road together after the bus has moved away (so you can all see what traffic is around).
- If walking to school, teach children to hold hands with you and to watch out for driveways. Treat driveways like roads and check if a car is coming or going.
- Help children understand what ‘Stop, Look, Listen, Think’ means as you cross the road together. Where possible, use pedestrian crossings and traffic light crossings to get to the other side of the road safely.
The Georgina Josephine Foundation was established in February 2012, to prevent and reduce unintentional injury or death of children from Low Speed Vehicle Runover (LSVR) accidents, after the Cockburn family lost their youngest daughter in an accident in their home garage in 2011.
For more information, visit www.gjfoundation.com.au.