Thursday, 26 November 2015

Road Safety Week

Elspeth Pitman

It is Road Safety Week and Brake’s theme this year is “Drive less, live more” which in turn will allow us to “Save more, Talk more, Care more and Live more”.

According to Brake: “Children who are encouraged to walk, cycle, scoot or skateboard to school tend to engage more with their community, stay healthy, and arrive alert, relaxed and ready to start the day.” This statement surely encompasses what we want for all of our children, an opportunity to live their life to the full. So even when the weather is not inviting, whenever possible, Norland would promote walking, scooting or cycling to nursery or school.

Here at Norland we think this week is a great opportunity to talk about how we can keep children in our care, safe on the roads. Research has found that when driving, children can be more distracting than mobile phones. We take our responsibility to ensure children are safe in the hands of our Norland Nannies when on the road very seriously. Students cover road safety as a topic on the Norland Diploma, we provide additional training in fitting car seats properly and on being safe in icy and wet conditions with skid pan training. Norland students also undertake Drive a Child online training as part of their course at Norland. Of course, keeping children safe on the road is not just about being in a car.  Students are also taught about safety as a pedestrian with children and how to teach children about staying safe whilst walking, cycling and scooting on the pavement.

For our older children, we should be teaching them how to be safe on the road. Road Safety GB and the Department for Transport have produced some useful ideas and resources to help teach children about road safety. Now that it is likely to be dark heading to and from school parents and carers should use this opportunity to speak to children about being visible to drivers as a pedestrian. You might get the conversation started about road safety with a fun activity, for example, buy some self-adhesive reflective tape and talk to the children about where they might be able to attach some to their clothing, bags, helmets, scooters and bikes to help the traffic see them better.

If driving really is the only option, then we must make essential checks to ensure the safety of the children we are driving. For example, are you certain you have fitted your child’s car seat properly? This is one of the questions you should be asking yourself every time you take a child out in a car. According to Brake if a child is properly fitted with an appropriate child restraint, suitable for the child’s size and weight, then the risk of injury in a crash is reduced by 70%, however, 56% of us get this wrong. Even though we train our nannies in fitting car seats, there are so many different makes and models, our students are taught to read the instructions on how to fit the specific car seat properly. If instructions are no longer available then they should find the correct instructions online or call the manufacturers to ask for a new copy. It is also their responsibility to be up-to date with the current laws on appropriate car restraints for children. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have some excellent guidance on how to ensure a child is safe in a car restraint.

 Fitting the car seat correctly is not the only consideration when driving with children.  In this wintery weather it is easy, for convenience, to strap your child in the car seat with their thick winter coat on, but this could be a dangerous mistake.  A small child could very easily overheat in their coat and hat and not be able to tell you. It is also harder to ensure that the harness of a car seat is fitted properly if a child is in a thick winter coat – the car seat straps might not be secure enough to protect the child should you have  an accident, as highlighted by Good Egg Car Safety[AS1] .  It is much safer to avoid putting children in their car seat in a winter  coat and use an additional blanket if need be. Remember though, if you plan on having the heaters on in the car, this may not be necessary.

So, this week take the initiative from Road Safety Week advice to “Drive less and live more” and get talking to your children or charges about safety whilst out and about.

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