Thousands of youngsters are injured on roads every year and hundreds die. Kevin Berry looks at resources to encourage safety
Most traffic accidents involving children occur in the early evening.
Children are tired, drivers are tired. Drivers complain that they cannot see children, and children and their parents complain that the drivers are travelling too fast.
Friday evening is the worst time for accidents and boys are twice as likely as girls to be involved in one. There are around 15,000 accidents and 200 deaths in the five-to-11 age group each year: these figures prompted the Government's Think! campaign.
The aim of the initiative is to reduce the number of accidents by half within 10 years. One statistic could do with regular quoting: a shocking 503 youngsters aged up to 19 died in road accidents during the year 2000, when the Think! campaign was launched; in the same year there were just 45 drugs-related deaths.
But quoting statistics is not always effective with children, so a more rounded approach needs to be taken. The new Out of School Activity Pack, developed by the Think! campaign and the Scottish Road Safety Campaign, is being launched at the Education Show.
Aimed at after-school clubs, the pack includes activities that are flexible enough to be adapted for different age groups. No exotic materials are required and the pack comes with supporting worksheets and useful follow-up suggestions.
The many activities in the pack vary between hectic and sedate. The Be Safe Be Seen relay race has teams running to a box filled with a mix of dull and bright clothing. Team members run in turn to the box, grab a bright piece and then run back. To make the game more demanding, it is suggested that the adult in charge holds up traffic light signals to control the runners.
However, the wisdom of telling children to run on the spot for amber is debatable.
The importance of bright andor reflective clothing is emphasised, but not just for pedestrians and cyclists. Youngsters travelling on skateboards, roller blades and scooters are also included.
Children are asked to create a board game with a route including hazards and safety measures. A further suggestion is to design a safe and snazzy outfit.
A rap activity is used as a way of focusing on appropriate behaviour in cars, buses and trains, with children encouraged to create a rhyme; further suggestions include role play in a pretend car or bus. A simple reaction task looks fun but can be thought-provoking, especially if adults (i.e.
drivers) are brave enough to include themselves.
The Out of School Activity Pack will be on display at the Think! stand. It will be available free via the Road Safety Officers Association (www.roadsafetyeducation.com).
Teddy Takes a Tumble
The Storysack company's new Teddy Takes a Tumble sack tackles the issue of child safety in cars. It features a teddy, a seat and restraint, a car to put everything in, tapes and an excellent story book.
The story book was conceived and written by nursery nurse students attending Skelmersdale and Ormskirk College in Lancashire. The students had been asked to observe seat belt usage as part of their work, and the numbers of unrestrained children shocked them.
So far 92,000 copies of the book have been distributed throughout the North-West.
Route 1 and Walking to School
Choosing a safe route to and from school, plus the benefits of walking, are covered in two excellent booklets from Sandwell Council's Traffic and Road Safety Services team, based in the West Midlands.
Route 1 and Walking to School are absorbing, colourful and deliciously funny. Children have obviously been consulted throughout the booklets'
design and preparation.
An interactive CD-Rom entitled Safer Routes, which includes a map designer feature, is aimed at secondary-age pupils and should prove particularly useful for young cyclists.