This is a collaborative post.
Each year the motoring organisations produce plenty of winter road safety advice for drivers. Articles are produced to help cyclists too but there’s little information for parents. Children do sometimes get a talk at at school about “be safe; be seen”. According to government statistics*, personal injury road traffic accidents in 2016 reached 136,621 casualties. Injured road users can seek legal advice. For example Slater Gordon Lawyers offer a free consultation to road users including pedestrians.
Getting out on dark days
Nowadays my daughters walk to secondary school in dark clothing and dark coats. It’s actually part of the school uniform rules that they wear black or other dark shades on their journey. I’m not very impressed with that rule because no matter how smart they look, I think they are being encouraged to dress impractically. We get snow every single year in Yorkshire and the girls are not allowed to wear boots either. After walking to school in snow, they spend the day in damp tights. Thankfully it’s only a five minute walk.
It’s tempting to stay stuck in the house all winter, light some candles, throw some marshmallows in a hot choccy and call it “hygge”. In reality we all need our exercise and vitamin D. Millions of us make long journeys to see relatives over the Christmas period too.
What do I tell my children about winter road safety?
1. As pedestrians
Assume that drivers find it hard to see you. Often in the dark a pedestrian will be just a shadowy silhouette. It’s much safer to wear light coloured clothes or carry a pale bag. Don’t trust the drivers but cross where you have a clear view. Even in our quiet street, never play on the road after dusk. In icy weather keep your hands empty if possible just in case you fall. Watch out for cars spraying you with slush.
2. As cyclists
Try to complete your journey in daylight. Use cycle routes and paths rather than the main roads where possible. Even on a winter’s day it will be fairly dim and you may need lights on your bike. At the front of your bike get a strong white light which will show you any potholes in the dark. Wear reflective clothing and your helmet. Check your tyre tread, pressures and brakes. Tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back.
It is possible to cycle in the snow, but it’s not often that you can do it safely. If only a little snow has fallen and the temperature has remained above freezing, it may still be safe to cycle. You’ll get horribly wet and slushy! As soon as it gets really cold, or after the snow has been packed down, it will be far too slippery.
3. As car passengers
Don’t forget your coat. Go to the toilet before setting off because in wintery weather there always seems to be more chance of getting stuck in a jam. Be ready early so we can allow more time for our journey. Try to have your phone fully charged, in case we need to call for help and someone else’s phone may have gone flat. If we come to a complete halt in a jam or a snowdrift, unplug the tablets and phones from the car. When the car engine is off, we don’t want to be draining the battery.
What do you teach your children about winter road safety? Let me know in the comments!
*source: Department for Transport