End of daylight savings time - the danger to child pedestrians

Driving in the Autumn

As the clocks roll back an hour, the unified sigh of relief in the UK for an extra hour of sleep lasts momentarily, until we realise that our commute to and from work will now occur in the dark!

The end of daylight savings time creates a number of hazards on our roads, but none more so than the risk to children.

Children are already vulnerable road users. Despite the best efforts of parents, schools and other bodies; children are more likely to be injured as a pedestrian than anyone else.

Figures recently released by Transport Scotland show over 900 child casualties in 2017. 152 were seriously injured and two died. The year before in 2016, there were nine child fatalities - the highest numbers recorded in almost 10 years.

The increase of in-car distractions was believed to have contributed to the increase in accidents reported in 2016.

While the number of children seriously injured as pedestrians is decreasing, the increase in distractions for young pedestrians is often causative – educating children on a few simple steps to stay safe on the roads is crucial as we enter darker mornings and evenings:

1. Visibility

If your child is walking to and from school, make sure they have reflective clothing. Particularly as the weather also deteriorates heading into winter, visibility on the roads decreases.

A reflective backpack is one option, however we suspect that may not be too popular! Alternatives are reflective zips, badges, arm-bands, snap bands and beanies – all of which can be purchased in different colours to help keep the children safe on the road.

2. Headphones and Mobile Phones

When we walk the streets, a good proportion of us are staring down at their phones oblivious to all around them. While this is not overly hazardous on pavements, it is extremely dangerous when crossing roads.

Encourage your children to remove headphones and place phones in their pocket when crossing the road. The old maxim of stop, look and listen is even more important in the dark – and children should be reminded to keep looking and listening until safely across.

3. Never Assume!

When we are young we feel invincible. We assume cars can see us and they will stop. The figures show this is not the case: children remain at risk.

Children should be taught to presume that a car will not see them. Teach them to always use crossings where available, and only when it’s unavoidable should they cross at an unmarked area and to do so with care. It should also be emphasised to never cross between parked cars.

2016 figures showed an increase in road fatalities in Scotland by 18%, and the view that in-car distractions contributed to that (around one third was surmised), the in-car distractions must be considered for pedestrians – if the driver is distracted they are at risk of injury, but the vulnerable pedestrian is at much more significant risk of harm.

Make yourself visible, take care when crossing, and don’t be distracted yourself!