Road Safety and Your Child – Some Helpful Ideas, by John Somerfield, Senior Constable and School Community Officer, New Zealand Police

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Parents have a huge part to play in influencing our next generation of road users. If you are reading this, that probably means you care about the safety of your child and want the best for them.

Helmets

A helmet should be worn while doing any adventure activity.  Cycling, scootering, or rock climbing. Your child’s helmet needs to be the right type for the activity.

A helmet should be the right size and shape for you child’s head right now. Heads grow slow, so make sure it fits now. It should be a snug fit, even before you have done up the straps.

Bikes

bike-riding-628739If  you are looking at getting another bike for your child,  think quality. You can find great bikes that are pre-loved. You can always put a new seat or other part onto the bike. Don’t buy a huge bike just so they can use it when they are twenty.

In New Zealand, bikes need a few things by law. They need a red rear  reflector,  good  brakes  front  and  back,  good  tyres,  and  they need reflectors on the pedals.

Just  grab the spray lubricant  and get  those parts  and brakes moving again. Don’t get it on the wheels or brake pads. Keep those tyres  pumped  up  at  the  service  station  to  the  amount  allowed,  as written on the side of the tyre. This makes cycling more fun and you get less punctures.

In New Zealand, if bike wheels are around 35 cm in diameter or less, kids are legally allowed to ride on the footpath. Therefore anything larger needs to be ridden on the road, leaving the footpaths for pedestrians.  The problem is when your young child is riding a larger bike. If they need to go on the footpath for their own safety, they will need to slow down and give way to all pedestrians and sneaky driveways.

Shoes

Good shoes should  always be  worn  on  bikes  and  scooters.  Scooter  brakes heat  up a lot  and will burn your child’s  foot  if  good shoes are not worn.

$_35Christmas Gifts that are great for safety

A new helmet, cycle gloves, sunglasses, a bell or a bright shirt.

Cars

Let’s use the back seat first for our kids.  BUT – Remember that the lap belt is not a very safe option. You could use an H harness with the lap belt to make it safe. Consider using the front seat for the older kids and moving the front seat back as far as it goes to stay away from any airbags.

Booster seats or booster pads are designed to do three things: they keep the seat belt across the shoulder; keep the belt across the hips, not the tummy and they let the knees bend nicely.  Your kids should be using some form of booster until they are about 148 cms in height.

Your  beautiful  child  should  never  get  out  of  the  car  onto  the roadway. Even if they need to climb over something, they should always get out onto the footpath side.

Walking

Always wait  for  your young child  on the school  side of  the street.  Children  have  been hurt  and  killed  while  crossing  the  road looking at their parent.

Cars

You must not  stop on yellow lines. Yellow lines are No-Stopping lines. These have been put on the road to keep everyone safe. In New Zealand the fine is $60 for stopping on yellow lines, even to drop off or pick up.

The  law  says  you  cannot  park  in  any  driveway  outside  the boundary  of  your  property.  You  cannot  obstruct  the  footpath.  You cannot park over any driveway including your own. In New Zealand the fine is $40 for any of these offences.

General

The most dangerous times for children near roads includes rushing into the school grounds in the morning and even more so as they are leaving school. They are often running, not taking notice of the traffic and, generally, it is difficult to predict what they will do next.

Parents  have  the  power  to  keep  cars  further  away  from schools,  to  keep everyone safe. We should be looking at how we are doing things and we should take the time to do things right… for the sake of our kids’ safety.

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