Think! Education

Recognising traffic

Children aged 5–7 need to understand the nature of traffic and know that it can be dangerous. They need to know about the different types of traffic found on roads and how they should behave when near traffic.

How you can help your child

Talking about traffic with your child when you're out and about is one of the best ways for him or her to learn:

  • Play 'spotting' games: where's a van? Can you see a lorry? Let's see who can spot a bus first.
  • Ask your child to tell you about the vehicles waiting at the traffic lights or passing you in the car. You can play 'what's coming next?' – guessing the next approaching vehicle.
  • Talk about vehicles you see: which goes fastest, which is largest, which carries people and which carries things? Talk about the directions in which vehicles are travelling and the sounds they make.
  • You can also draw vehicles with your child, guessing each other's pictures and seeing how many you can come up with.
  • Building up your child's language will help him or her to understand traffic: use words to describe speed, size, shape, directions or talk about signs, lights, signals and road markings. Ask your child why traffic can be dangerous.

Pedestrian safety: the facts

  • Every week, an average of 6 children between the ages of 5 and 7 are killed or seriously injured on Great Britainís roads.
  • 73% of children aged between 5 and 7 killed or seriously injured in 2014 were on foot at the time.

But let's get one thing clear: it's still important for children to be outside. Walking is good for children's health and fitness and we support parents who encourage their children to walk as much as possible. Taking your child in the car for short journeys puts more traffic on the road and adds to the problem.

Children can be safer on the streets if we show them how. What's the best way to do this?

1. Set a good example

  • When you cross the road, don't take risks – your children will copy you.
  • Remember to find a safer place to cross then stop, look and listen.
  • Don't use your mobile phone while crossing the road.
  • Wearing bright colours or reflective clothing helps motorists to see you.

2. Hold hands

  • Always hold hands with your young child near traffic (or make sure they hold onto a buggy if you're pushing one).
  • Make sure your child walks on the side of the pavement away from the traffic.
  • If there is no pavement walk on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic.
  • If your child is using a tricycle, bicycle or scooter, don't let them ride ahead of you. Make sure that they get off the tricycle or scooter and hold your hand to cross the road. Where it is busy, it may be better to push the tricycle or scooter until you are somewhere quieter.
  • If your child is using roller skates, don't let them go too far ahead of you – they may find it hard to stop at the kerb. Hold their hand while you cross the road.

3. Find the safest places to cross the road

  • If you can, use traffic islands, zebra, pelican and puffin crossings, footbridges and subways.
  • Cross where you can see clearly in all directions.
  • Avoid crossing between parked cars if there is a safer place nearby (and be considerate yourself when parking.)
  • Show your child how to STOP, LOOK and LISTEN.