We often teach the children in our care a lot about pedestrian safety. This applies to their travelling to and from kindy/school, to friends houses or even just playing out the front at home. A huge part of a child’s development involves simply walking around their neighbourhood, familiarising themselves with their environment and encouraging independence. Due to a large number of developmental factors, this can place children in risk. Some of these factors include:
- Children focus on one task at a time and ignore, or are unaware of, other things around them.
- Children do not have the experience to appreciate what danger surrounds them near traffic. They do not have the ability to evaluate a traffic situation and behave without consideration for the dangers and hazards.
- Children’s directional hearing is not as well developed as adults and they can experience some difficulty working out which direction cars are coming from. And, in fact they often think it is coming from the wrong direction.
- Children’s peripheral vision is underdeveloped and therefore they are unlikely to see an approaching car. Children up until the age of
10 may have as little as one-third of an adult’s field of vision. Unless children turn their heads they may not notice vehicles to their right or
- Children can’t judge the distance and speed of cars properly. This makes it difficult for them to judge a safe gap in the traffic without adult
- Children can’t stop quickly and tend to freeze when faced with danger. They can also move out of safety and into danger in an instant.
- Children’s small stature means they can’t always be seen by drivers (eg over bushes or parked cars).
- Due to their size child pedestrian injuries are likely to be more severe.
- Children have a strong sense of independence and from the age of about one year they may not want to hold an adult’s hand near traffic.