Walking and Biking Safely

Children start learning to be more independent from kindergarten age through third grade.  They love to walk, ride bikes and play outside but don't have the judgement skills required to cope with traffic situations by themselves at this point.  With your help, they can at least begin to understand safety rules and become "traffic smart."

Parents often think that their children can handle traffic by themselves before they're actually ready.  On average, most kids aren't equipped to handle traffic situations until they're at least 10 years old.

As a parent, it's important to remember that children:

· usually act before they think and may not do what parents or drivers would expect,
· assume that if they can see the driver, the driver can see them,
· can't judge speed and don't realize that cars can't stop instantly, and
· often encounter "blind spots" due to being smaller in height.

Most accidents involving children and motor vehicles occur when kids are playing near home or riding their bikes.  Kids tend to feel safer when they're closer to home and could run in the middle of the block where drivers don't expect them.  The same thing applies to riding bikes.  Once your child has the courage to take off the training wheels, they actually get a feeling of confidence and freedom.  After all, bicycles are vehicles too.  If you're child is already motoring around on a bike, be sure to keep them out of the street until they fully understand traffic rules and know how to follow them.

Here are a few safety tips you can follow:

· Set limits for your child: As your children grow, set appropriate limits on where they can walk or bike safely.  Don't expect them to be responsible or to start to behave safely until age 10.
· Find safe places for riding and walking: Find places away from streets, driveways, and parking lots.  Good choices are fenced yards, parks, or playgrounds.
· Teach safe walking habits:  Begin to teach your child about how to cross streets safely. Give them plenty of chances to practice when you are with them.
· Set an example for your children:  Young children learn by watching their parents and other adults.  Cross streets properly and always wear a helmet when you ride a bike. When you are driving, obey speed limits and watch for children.

These tips are a good place to start, but when it comes to children and safety you can never have too much information.  Visit National City's Autochannel for more information on child transportation safety.