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Unlike young children, teenagers should have a better grasp of how to use the road but they tend to be less ‘malleable’ or willing to take advice!
When it comes to teaching them about road safety, it should be about reinforcing their road skills and the importance of road safety awareness, letting them tell you rather than going back to basics.
The importance of teaching road safety to teenagers
While it’s a given that teenagers are aware of the steps they should take to staying road safe, they are still seen to be one of the most vulnerable groups of road users. According to statistics from 2015, road injuries are the top five killers of teenagers between the age of 10 and 19 years old and accounted for one in ten deaths among adolescents in that year.
To help emphasise the importance of road safety, we’ve listed our top tips for helping teenagers to stay safe while using the road independently.
Safety while cycling
Instead of getting a lift from mum or dad, teenagers may choose to cycle to meet their friends. If that’s the case, check that they are wearing a cycle helmet, there are plenty on the market that are seen as ‘cool’ and lots of role models who wear them – and you can point out that someone who doesn’t is Boris Johnson! It’s the same with fluorescent and reflective clothes, there are plenty of things they can wear to make them more visible, it doesn’t have to mean wearing a sash they are embarrassed by.
If they aren’t confident cyclists, remind them to use cycle paths wherever possible and tell them not to listen to music through their headphones. If they want to see the difference it makes tell them to watch how those with headphones cycle compared with those who don’t, it’s often shocking rather than impressive, and what serious cyclist on an expensive bike do you see listening to headphones? They also shouldn’t cycle without their hands on the handlebars, and they should never cycle with a passenger on the back.
Safety on the bus
If you don’t live close to their school, your teenager may need to catch the bus to get there. Remind them to stand away from the edge of the road, if they object to that show them what happens when it’s wet and there is spray or accidents where vehicles mount the pavement, it’s not pleasant viewing. It’s also good to discuss how they would get home safely if they were to miss the last bus home.
Safety while walking
As your child gets older and more independent, they will want to walk to and from school, or to the shop on their own. When they do walk alone, remind them to stick to footpaths and well-lit areas for their own safety. They should also ditch distractions caused by headphones and mobile phones so they are alert to any traffic and not vulnerable to robbery. It’s worth talking to them about the choice of routes they decide to take and discussing with them what they would do if they or a friend had an accident. You should also make sure that they have a fully-charged phone and some money on them when they walk out of the door in case of an emergency.
Safety while driving
Your teenager may also start to learn how to drive or travel in a car as a passenger with friends who have recently passed their driving test. If they do, remind them of the importance of wearing a seatbelt and what could happen if they travel without one. It’s also important to reinforce why they should always act sensibly and not take risks when it comes to driving. They should know not to feel pressured to travel in a car with someone they don’t feel comfortable with driving; giving them the number of a local taxi company that you are prepared to pick up the bill for if they feel unsafe is worth thinking about. You can speak to the taxi company and explain what you have offered to your child.
These are just some of the things worth reminding your teenager so they are safe when out and about on or near roads, and so that you have (at least some) peace of mind when they’re using the roads alone.
Author Bio: Thompsons Solicitors is a personal injury law firm dedicated to standing up for the injured. Thompsons Solicitors offer expert advice on road traffic accident claims for those who do find themselves injured on the road. Our Stay Road Safe campaign highlights the importance of road safety and the support we offer to those who are injured in road accidents.