"Children see - children do."
Parents have a duty to set a good example for their children. When we drive lovingly, we instill the message that safety is an expression of our love for them. We communicate this by teaching them road safety rules, but also by consistently upholding high safety standards, ourselves. To drive lovingly is not only to do so on our good parenting days. It is still important on days when our toddler fights against their car seat, when it feels inconvenient, or when your
destination is “just around the corner”.
SET A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR ROAD SAFETY
Children learn a lot through observation. When we obey the laws and rules of the road – inside of a vehicle and out – we set both a standard and an attitude for our children.
Inconsistency in following rules, as well as the dismissal of them only serves to diminish the importance of these rules. For example, only wearing a seatbelt in some situations and not others undermine the purpose of this rule. This is true for other rules as well. Repetition and consistency of rules in and around vehicles is an effective way of teaching road safety. It minimises the chance that your child will become injured or killed in a road-related incident.
Also, controlling our emotions and the way we react to other drivers on the road is equally important. It sets in place the fundamental building blocks of creating both respect and awareness of others on the road.
BE IN THE KNOW
When it comes to ensuring your children are safe, it is important that as parents we are equipped with the correct information. This allows us to make educated decisions relating to our children’s safety on the road. This ranges from familiarity with road safety laws to choosing the correct size car seat.
Many organisations, such as Wheel Well, exist to help parents in becoming informed on the topic of road safety for children. They also offer resources to guide you through aspects of road safety that you had perhaps not even considered.
BE PRESENT WHILE DRIVING
Nowadays we live in a world that is constantly fighting for our attention in many ways. This is also true while driving. Between mobile phone notifications, setting a route on your GPS or talking to passengers in the car, losing focus for a second could result in a car crash. Distractions while driving are one of the greatest contributors to car crashes.
Texting while driving accounts for almost 25% of all car crashes in South Africa. This is a greater contributor to car crashes than driving drunk. Yet many people are quick to casually dismiss the risk in an age of fast communication.
Drunk driving and driving while fatigued are also huge contributors to car crashes. We are responsible for the passengers whom we carry in our vehicle. Our responsibility to them and other users on the road is to ensure we are in a clear and focused state of mind before getting behind the wheel.
SAFER VEHICLES, SAFER PASSENGERS
In a tough economy, many people find themselves under immense financial pressure. Many must make adjustments to their lives to try and stretch each paycheck further. It may be tempting to put off vehicle maintenance and tyre changes which often come at a significant cost. But compromising safety should never be an option. This is especially true within the context of road safety, where the consequences can be fatal.
Other drivers may feel that although routine maintenance is due, it may seem that the vehicle could keep going a little bit longer. Yet routine maintenance allows for circumvention and prevention of potential risks or weaknesses. Maintenance stops smaller problems from progressing to bigger, life-threatening problems.
DRIVE LOVINGLY FOR EVERYONE
Observing road safety is not just to keep us and our families safe on the roads, but others as well. Defensive driving, with respect for other users on the road, means that all cars can navigate our roads with as few risks as possible.
When driving in residential areas or near schools, it is important to drive at a speed and with awareness of child pedestrians. as well as their often unpredictable nature. With much smaller bodies and impulsive nature, they are less visible on and around roads compared to adults. Extra precautions should be taken when driving in areas where there are children present. Around schools, it is best practice to drive no faster than 30km/hr.
When driving with other children who are not your own, ensure you offer them the same safety precautions as you would your children. Safe driving, while being present and the children correctly restrained. Road safety is a human right that must be afforded to all children.
While we highlight this during February’s “Month of Love”, driving lovingly should be an attitude to adopt for all months. Your children may be too young to understand the whys and hows of road safety.
But our attitudes and behaviours will cement the importance of road safety in their young minds. And a toddler car seat tantrum today is something your child will look back upon in the future. They will know you upheld these standards, set these rules and restrained them in this way because you care for them.
They will know it was out of your love for them.