Many of us have had near misses, braking suddenly when a school child runs in front of our car. Kim Norton is thinking of solutions to help protect our small children.
The sun is getting lazy again, and many of us will soon be doing our early-morning school and work runs in the dark.
Unfortunately it’s a fact of life that on these dark winter mornings, it’s not uncommon to see a small child – or seven or eight – darting between cars or running across a busy road.
Of course we can say, “Where are the parents?”, but in all probability, they’re already at their receptionist and security guard and domestic worker jobs. Not everyone is able to afford a shuttle service or a driver, or have flexible work hours, or a handy relative or friend nearby to help.
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Little children of six, seven and eight can barely be seen above the bonnets and side mirrors of cars. Even when taught how to cross roads safely, most are not yet able to judge the distances of vehicles, and they’re so young and playful that they will continue to walk four abreast in the middle of the road, or run after a ball without looking.
That they do these things wearing dark clothing in what is essentially night-time visibility makes it a wonder that more children aren’t injured getting to school.
So how do we protect our children?
1. Reflective strips
Rain jackets and school trousers are usually navy or black or charcoal in colour, which doesn’t help in the dark. Reflective strips across the back and around the legs, much like those on emergency services and construction workers’ clothing, would dramatically improve visibility and help motorists avoid near misses.
Retailers around the world and in South Africa are starting to bow to the pressure to remove sweets from the aisles at tills – can that same pressure be applied to get reflective strips onto their school wear?
2. Walking with guidance
Small children, who shouldn’t yet be walking alone along the road, could be helped to get to school more safely. Children could be encouraged to walk together in groups, on pavements only, walking double file, holding hands in crocodiles. Perhaps an older scholar who lives close by and attends a nearby school could be paid a small monthly fee by parents to take charge of walking the crocodiles of children to school.
Read more: How to form a school lift club
In an ideal world, there would be subsidised, safe transport to and from school, clean, sunny after-school care and healthy cooked meals, and parents would all have flexible working options. But we also know that it is just not going to happen right now. So we need to come up with ways to protect our children.
What safety suggestions can you come up with? Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.