Street Smart

Pedestrian Safety

Cars Can Kill kids

Every week in Australia a child pedestrian is killed (about 50 a year). For every child killed another 25 are admitted to hospital. About 13 of these deaths are children run over by reversing vehicles, typically in driveways.

Pedestrian injury deaths are second only to car passenger deaths for children aged 5 to 14 and account for 1 in 5 injury deaths for this age group.

Children Aren’t ‘Little Adults’

Roads are designed with adults in mind, but children aren’t ‘little adults’. Children do not have as much traffic experience or knowledge and are physically and cognitively less developed. Unlike adults, children:

  • Can’t see over bushes or parked cars
  • Can’t be seen easily by drivers
  • Can’t stop quickly
  • Run into traffic
  • Imitate inappropriate behaviour
  • Can’t tell where sounds are coming from
  • May only notice one thing at a time
  • Have trouble concentrating
  • Tend to only look ahead
  • Tend to freeze in danger
  • Think that if they can see you, you can see them
  • Peripheral vision is under developed to age 9.

Children are not ‘little adults’. Be- ing a pedestrian is a risky business for a child, especially in busy areas.

Driveways Are Roads

Tragically every week in Australia, one child, often a toddler, is run over in the driveway of their home.

In the time a parent, family member, or friend takes to say goodbye, a child can move from a ‘safe’ position onto the driveway and into the path of a vehicle.

The vehicle is often moving slowly but even then it can sometimes be impossible to see small children, especially if they are behind the car.


  • Hold your child’s hand or keep them close when a vehicle is being moved from or onto a driveway.
  • When moving a vehicle, make sure your child is being supervised by another adult or they are in the car with you,.
  • Discourage children from using driveways as a play area.
  • Use barriers such as security doors, fencing and gates to restrict access to your driveway.

Watch Your Children Near Roads

Walking is an important part of a child’s life. It is important for their health, fitness, and their ability to get around their neighbourhood. Getting to and home from school may also rely on walking.

Before 5 years of age children should never be left alone to cope with traffic situations. It is important that you hold your child’s hand
at all times when near traffic. Set a good example for your child to copy. Explain to your child what you are doing when you cross the road together. From 5 to 9 years, children should still be supervised at all times near traffic. Teach your child how to cross roads:

STOP at the kerb

LOOK, both ways, for traffic

LISTEN for traffic

THINK, decide whether it’s safe to cross

Make the trip to school together along the safest footpaths and use safe crossing places. If you aren’t able to take your child yourself, arrange for a responsible adult to supervise your child on the way to and from school. Explain words as “fast”, “slow”, “near” and “far”. Talk about road signs, traffic lights and safe places to cross.

From 10 to 13 years of age children can cope more safely in traffic on their own. However, the busier the roads they must cross, the older they need to be.

Check your child always stops, looks, listens and thinks when crossing roads.

Tell your child about road laws in simple terms, go for walks together. Plan with your child safe routes to school and places often visited. Make sure your child wears clothes that are easy to see. (e.g. Bright or light coloured clothing.)

School Car Parks

  • School car parks are a major risk for children
  • Every one is in a hurry and children, especially, are tired in the afternoon.
  • School carparks are very busy places, with many distractions adding to the confusion for children.
  • Reduce traffic congestion – walk or ride with your child.
  • Pedestrian injuries can be severe. They are a significant cause of child disability.

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