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Road safety tips to teach your children

Updated: 25 May 2012

Being road smart doesn't necessarily come naturally. You need to teach your children how to be safe pedestrians and how to be safe passengers whether travelling in a car, bus or train. It's not just about telling them what to do - children learn from what adults do, so you need to model safe behaviour. This section explains the key things you need to teach your children about staying safe when crossing the road, walking, biking, taking the bus and even playing around home.

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Walking smart

An important part of teaching your children road safety is to model safe behaviour yourself and talk to your child about what you are doing and why.

Follow these tips on keeping safe while walking and crossing the road.

You can also find more information in Hike it, Bike it, Scoot it, Skate it.

Feet First - getting children walking

Feet First is a national project designed to get kiwi children walking. Working alongside initiatives such as walking school buses and school travel plans, Feet First encourages primary school students to walk to school with a parent, caregiver, friend or organised walking group. The project includes national curriculum content provided online for teachers covering:

  • safety
  • exploring
  • creativity
  • caring for your community and your environment.

Find out more about Feet First.

Bike safety

Teach your children good habits by biking with them.

  • Under 10s should always bike with an adult.
  • Your child must wear an approved cycle helmet correctly.
  • Make sure bikes have working brakes.
  • Make sure bikes have reflectors and lights if cycling at night or in poor visibility conditions.
  • Wearing a high visibility vest or jacket is a good idea.
  • Remember, your children will copy the way they see you riding your bike.

Think about enrolling your child on a cyclist skills training course, which can help them build their cycling confidence and skills.

See more information about how to keep safe when cycling.

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Bus safety tips for your children

Check these tips on teaching your children how to board, travel on and leave buses safely.

And follow this advice when picking up or dropping off children at the bus stop.

Car safety for your children

In the car, it's important for children to have the appropriate child restraint that is fastened correctly in the vehicle. Make sure:

  • children sit in the back seat
  • children use a child restraint or booster seat that fits them
  • everyone is wearing their safety belts and that restraints are fitted correctly
  • that you drive to the conditions.

Learn about other vehicle safety features that can protect you and your passengers in a crash.

When picking up or dropping off your children

  • Ensure children get in and out on the footpath side of the car.
  • Park safely, away from yellow lines, intersections and driveways.
  • Drive slowly outside schools and be prepared for surprises.
  • Never double park outside a school.
  • Walk to the school gate with your children in the mornings.
  • After school, walk to the school gate to meet your children and walk them to the car.
  • Take extra care on wet days.

Safety for children around roads and driveways

Remember, your children need to be road smart around your home too. They should only play outdoors in areas that are well fenced and away from traffic, including driveways.

Talk to your child about what to do if a ball, toy, pet or other item goes on to the road while they are playing:

  • They need to ask an adult to get the ball or object that goes onto the road
  • If this is not possible:
    • wait for the ball to stop
    • walk along the footpath until directly opposite the ball
    • use the kerb drill to cross to the opposite footpath
    • pick up the ball and then use the kerb drill to return.