If your children spend a good amount of time walking along busy roads, then they need to understand how to look out for their safety!
Distracted driving is always an issue and you don’t want your kids to be an unfortunate victim of it. In the same vein, distracted walking is also problematic because it renders your kids unaware of any potentially dangerous drivers.
In the interest of keeping kids safe, you need to teach your children good pedestrian habits with the use of active awareness. You can’t always rely on drivers to pay attention and stop for your children, so they need to take their well being into their own hands!
Let’s take a look at what active awareness entails as a pedestrian and how it can keep your kids safe.
What Is Active Awareness?
First, it’s useful to know what active awareness is. There are many ways to interpret this concept, but the primary meaning is to be mindful of what you’re doing and your surroundings.
Another way to understand active awareness is by actively being aware of what’s going on around you. With both definitions, you need to be present in the moment and not let yourself get distracted by technology.
It’s extremely easy to get lost on your smartphone and not know what’s happening on the road. If you’ve ever accidentally walked at a crosswalk without having a walk signal present, then you know exactly what this looks like.
Children are particularly prone to this because they won’t likely care about cars driving by them. If they never experience the horror of nearly getting hit by a car, then it’s difficult to view it as a real possibility.
This is why your kids need to understand the dangers of being a pedestrian and how they must be aware at all times.
How Does This Apply to Pedestrians?
Active awareness is particularly relevant for being a pedestrian. Some drivers are safe and always look at the road, but many aren’t and don’t pay very good attention.
Part of the issue here is that driving requires a lot of focus and skill. Just about anyone can drive, but a much smaller percentage of people can do it well. With so much to keep an eye on, it’s easy to overlook a pedestrian when drivers are looking out for other cars first.
Aside from distractions, there’s always the possibility of running into a passive-aggressive driver who wants to take out their frustration on an unsuspecting pedestrian. Few people are this malicious, but there’s always a small chance of having a close call with someone who’s having a bad day.
These are great reasons to teach your children the four concepts we’ll explain below.
Focus on the Road
The first thing your kids should understand is to always focus on the road.
Think about how a smartphone can be a major distraction for drivers. Between text messages, phone calls, and social media notifications, there are plenty of audio and visual cues that can grab your attention.
Now imagine having a smartphone, but not being behind the wheel of a car. It’s certainly not illegal to use your phone and walk at the same time, so where’s the harm?
The problem with this is that your eyes are still glued to something that isn’t the vehicles on the road. Even when you’re just a pedestrian, you can’t trust that other drivers will always be safe so your kids should be constantly watching for cars rather than using their phones.
Don’t Use Headphones
Closely related to smartphone use is listening to music with headphones.
You’ve probably gone walking with headphones before. It can be quite relaxing and can make your walk go by faster.
While this is true, it limits your ability to listen for vehicles. Being aware of your surroundings is about more than just what you can see.
The problem with relying solely on your vision to watch for cars is that you can’t see what’s behind you. There’s a great chance that the car you can’t see is what’s going to hit you.
Using your ears is another way to be aware of your surroundings by taking advantage of another one of your senses. Teach your kids to keep their earbuds and headphones off so that they have a better chance of detecting cars.
Obey Traffic Signals
Another significant rule is to make sure that your kids know to always obey traffic signals and road laws.
While this is particularly important for drivers, there’s an equal responsibility for pedestrians to also obey them. Traffic and pedestrian laws exist for the sole purpose of keeping everyone safe.
Anytime that someone violates a traffic law, it creates an unsafe environment for everyone involved. Predictability is crucial for driving because it means everyone knows what to expect.
Without predictability, drivers will be forced to react on the fly and can easily make poor decisions. Even worse, they might not have time to react at all if they aren’t paying attention.
Let’s say that your child decides to walk at a crosswalk when it isn’t their turn to go. This will force any oncoming traffic to stop when they aren’t supposed to, which is dangerous for anyone behind or near them.
There’s a chance that a driver doesn’t have time to stop or that they swerve and hit something else. Regardless of what happens, it’s never a good idea to jaywalk or break the law because it makes the road unsafe for everyone around.
Don’t Expect a Driver to Stop
One last idea to instruct your kids on is to never expect a driver to stop for them, even if they have the right-of-way.
There are two main scenarios when this might happen. The first is when there’s a stop sign and the other is at a red light.
In the first situation, many states have pedestrian right-of-way laws that say a pedestrian gets to walk before a car can go. Even if this is true, some drivers are impatient or might not even notice that your child is trying to cross the street.
When there’s a red light, the main problem that happens is when a driver is trying to turn right on a red light. They may be so focused on checking to see if there’s a window for them to turn that they won’t look to see if someone is crossing the street.
Regardless of which scenarios your child may face, they need to know that a car won’t always stop for them, even if they’re obligated to. This is why they should always be vigilant about the cars around them to quickly stop or jump out of the way if need be.
Pedestrian safety is something that drivers are legally responsible for, but this doesn’t matter if your child is hit by a car.
Instead, it’s better to teach your kids to take care of their safety when walking by using active awareness. This means being mindful of their surroundings and always watching the cars around them.
A few methods they can use to implement this includes focusing on the road, avoiding the use of headphones, obeying all traffic and pedestrian laws, and never relying on a driver to stop, even if they’re required to.
The last thing you want is for your kid to be the victim of a pedestrian-vehicle car accident. This is why you must teach them to take their safety into their own hands and never depend on a driver for it!