Road safety tips for children, especially with back-to-school in mind Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Schools reopen for the new term on Monday (January 9), which means that the roads will be populated by children, many of whom will be unaccompanied by an adult or other responsible person.

The Road Safety Unit (RSU) in the Ministry of Transport and Mining is providing some important tips and advice to help children traverse the roadways safety as they get to and from school.

Speaking with JIS News, Education and Information Officer at the RSU, Dontae Matthews, said children eight years or older can navigate the roadways by themselves, once they have been taught safe road use.

For younger children, they should always be accompanied by an adult, who should walk between the child and the traffic. That means the child should be on the inside and away from the busy roadway.

For unaccompanied children, parents and guardians should teach them the six-step method of crossing the road – think first; find a safe place to cross, then stop; use eyes and ears; look right, left, then right again; wait until it is safe; look and listen again, and get across alive.

Matthews urged adults, when walking with children, to teach them to walk within guardrails where they are available, and never on the roadway. Also, children should use safe places to cross the road.

“When we say safe places, we are talking about pedestrian crossings, a traffic light, a signalised intersection, pedestrian bridge, and where there is a pedestrian push button. We encourage children to use those areas so they can get across safely,” he explained.

Matthews also encouraged parents and guardians to teach children how to indicate to motorists and cyclists that they intend to cross the road.

“(They should) look right, then left, then right again and ensure that all vehicles come to a complete stop before they cross. Some children, they tend to think that once one car stops, it’s okay to start walking, but they have to look both ways,” he pointed out.

“Also, while they are crossing, they should keep their hand up, so that if anybody is overtaking, they can see that a child is crossing,” he advised.

Children should avoid crossing at a corner, on a toll road, or between large trucks and buses.

Matthews further instructed that children travelling in groups should walk single file, especially on narrow roads without sidewalks.

Where there are no sidewalks, they [should] always walk on the right side of the road facing oncoming traffic. This way, they can see the flow of traffic and the behaviour of the motorists or motorcyclist or other road users,” he pointed out.

Pedestrian crossings should be used where available and applicable.

Matthews warned that children should never use devices such as phones, tablets and earphones while using the roadways, as these are distractions that can cause accidents.

Children should wear bright-coloured or reflective clothing at night to ensure that they can be seen. They should avoid wearing dark clothing at night.

Matthews encouraged members of the public, particularly motorists, to look out for children on the roads, and to play their role in protecting them from harm.

He said drivers are required to observe the speed limit for designated areas.

“If they are driving in areas where there are schools, (they should) ensure that they cut their speed, so the highest they should go is 30 kilometres (per hour). If it is a built-up area, it is 50 kilometres (per hour), and for a highway, 80 to 110 kilometres; but stick to the speed limits,” he urged.

When travelling in motor vehicles, children under 12 are to be seated in the back. If the child sits in the front, only one person should occupy the passenger seat. Children should be taught to always wear a seatbelt.

Cellphone use by children while walking on the roadways should be a definite ‘no, no’.

Where children are passengers on motorcycles, they should always wear protective devices, such as a helmet and other gear.

When travelling with young children in motor vehicles, adults should ensure that the proper, age-appropriate safety devices are used. These include infant carriers and booster seats for toddlers and young children.

He said children taking public passenger vehicles should observe certain precautions. These include ensuring that the vehicle has a red licence plate, and to look for the driver’s identification (ID) and the Transport Authority sticker.

Matthews emphasised that only licensed and experienced drivers and riders should be allowed to transport children.

If a driver is engaged to transport children, parents and guardians are required to ensure that this is someone who is capable and knowledgeable about how to operate safely on the roadways.

For the year 2022, a total of 19 children were killed in road crashes. These were comprised of five children in the zero to four age group; four in the five to nine age group; three children 10 to 14 years old; and seven aged 15 to 17 years.

Seven of them were pedestrians, five were motorcyclists, five were private motor vehicle passengers, one was a public passenger vehicle passenger, and one was a private motor vehicle driver (learner).

“What that information is telling us is that we have children walking across the road not looking properly, children who are not eligible to ride a motorcycle operating these, and for passengers in private motor vehicles, children not wearing seatbelts. They were thrown to the front of the vehicles or got hurt because of failure to wear seatbelts,” Matthews lamented.

The Road Safety Unit officer also encourages motorists and other road users to assist children to cross the roads, where possible.

“If you are a driver and you see a child at a pedestrian crossing, help them. Signal to other motorists that a child wants to cross. Assist them in getting across safely. We all have to help each other on the roads,” he said.