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Qld: hold children’s hands crossing street

Parents and kids are encouraged to walk hand in hand as part of a new child pedestrian safety campaign.

Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland (CARRS-Q), launched the campaign after conducting statewide research on keeping kids safe around roads and cars. Mackay Central State School was chosen as the host for this launch, as part of Queensland’s Road Safety Week.

The campaign features posters, flyers, videos, and an activity sheet for children. The aim is to raise awareness of road risks, but also to provide parents helpful strategies for helping keep children safe on roads. Dr Alexia Lennon, CARRS-Q researcher, says the program grew from feedback from 220 parents during the research.

“While holding hands is the ideal safety strategy, parents told us that often this is difficult if they have more than one child, or their hands are full with bags or prams,” Lennon says. “By asking your child to hold on to something else attached to you, for example a bag strap or pram, parents can keep hold of their child until they are somewhere safe.”

Lennon says until the age of 9, children’s perceptual and cognitive abilities are not sufficiently developed for them to make sound judgements when crossing roads. This makes it hard for them to judge vehicle distances and speeds, and as such, many road accidents occur when children are unsupervised.

CARRS-Q also found that while parents usually hold the hands of younger children, they are less likely to do so when the children are a bit older. Parents and children are also less likely to hold hands when the family is just walking along a footpath, when they’re in a quiet street, or when they’re in a car park.

“We are asking parents to remember that crossing roads is a complex activity and children’s brains simply aren’t up to the task until they’re around 9,” Lennon said. “So even if your child wants to be all grown up, it’s just not safe to give in.”

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