NEWS: The campaign aiming to save children’s lives this summer

11 December 2018

With summer and school holidays upon us, it’s an important time to talk about keeping children safe and road safety. School zones are not operating and, as may families arrive to the region on holiday, there are many more children about who might not be familiar with the roads.

Little Blue Dinosaur’s ‘It’s Holiday Time: Slow Down, Kids Around’ campaign, which launches every December across 39 councils in four states (and counting) is aimed at educating and protecting child pedestrians during school holiday time.

The Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation was established by Michelle McLaughlin in memory of her four-year-old son Tom, who tragically passed away in a pedestrian road accident while on a Central Coast family vacation in 2014.

“It was only the second day of our family holiday. We had all been excitedly looking forward to sharing some quality holiday time together after a busy Christmas,” said Michelle.

“At 5:55pm our family began gathering at the front of the rental property to walk towards the beach just 250 metres away for a swim at the end of a scorching hot day. Tom had been so excited at the prospect of using his new surfboard for the first time when he unpredictably and very quickly took two steps from a stationary position from the grassy verge which blended seamlessly into the narrow 5.3-metre-wide beach hamlet roadway. Horrifyingly, Tom had stepped directly and innocently into the pathway of a 4WD travelling at 50 kilometres per hour, which is the default speed limit for this area.”

The Little Blue Dinosaur campaign

The Little Blue Dinosaur campaign targets all road users including child pedestrians, accompanying adult pedestrian carers and drivers. It acknowledges that holidaying road users may not be fully aware of the impact of ‘differing’ roadway landscapes of their holiday destination. The campaign also focuses on local drivers to be more diligent and aware of the increased number of children on our roads during this time. As well, holiday destinations are a new environment for children where the 'holidays’ roadway environment can look different to that of home and therefore children may not recognise them as a roadway. We know children on holiday are very excited and road safety is far from their minds.

Talking to children about road safety

At the age of eight, children start to recognise differing roadways and become more confident in coping with changes in the traffic environment. Until then, they are incredibly vulnerable.

Until age 10, children have:

  • Limitation in their cognitive abilities to understand each element of the complex (and constantly changing) road environment.
  • Trouble determining the origin of sound when a car is approaching.
  • They take longer to react to sudden changes in the traffic environment.
  • Generally lack the height to fully assess the scene.
  • They are often absorbed in what the activities they are doing & whilst they might hear a message such as “stop!”, it will take their brain additional time to react. This could potentially place them in life threatening danger.
  • Children may falsely believe that a roadway that appears quiet is okay to play on.

What you can do

After the age of 10, children are more confident and consistent within the traffic environment however they should be closely supervised until at least 12 years old. This is an important stage in their development as they are exposed to roadways and continue to build confidence around roadways.

  • Ensure they hold onto your pram, stroller, bag, trolley or a piece of your clothing if your hands are full.
  • Talk about what different road signs mean, identify safe places to cross together and reinforce the STOP, LOOK, LISTEN, THINK procedure.
  • Road safety should be a daily conversation as our children are exposed to the danger of roadways, driveways and vehicles daily.

Written by

Kids on the Coast/Kids in the City
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