What do children know about road safety? Are they aware of the main risks at the wheel? And what do they think of their parents as drivers? A report drawn up by Intras and the Directorate General for Traffic (DGT) shows that young children know more about road safety than we think, though there is still room for improvement. For example, they are aware of how dangerous it is to drive after drinking alcohol. They also understand it is "quite dangerous" to drive when it's raining, to use a mobile phone as a pedestrian, and to cycle without using a helmet.
The report, published in the magazine Tráfico y Seguridad Vial (Traffic and Road Safety) published by the DGT, assesses the road safety knowledge of primary and secondary school children. The results show that very young children, in general, understand the basic road safety rules. They also understand the dangers of alcohol when driving, and believe that the hands-free system is better than a mobile phone when it comes to avoiding distractions at the wheel.
How do they rate their parent's driving?
The survey also wanted to know how children would rate their parents in terms of road safety.
Parents "passed the test" in:
- Safe behavior.
- Obeying rules.
- Respecting other drivers.
- Using seat belts.
- Avoiding fines.
- Not driving after drinking alcohol.
However, they failed in:
- Crossing pedestrian crossings with the traffic light on red.
This is something that stood out, as it is very important to instill in children the importance of waiting to cross at the right time.
According to the children, fathers are those who have taught them most about road safety (74%), followed, in order, by: mothers, police officers, teachers, grandparents and siblings.
What are the most effective measures for avoiding accidents?
Children believe that the most effective measures are improving streets and roads, increasing the presence of police officers to monitor and control traffic and, most importantly, more road safety education. On the other hand, parents believe it is necessary to provide more road safety education and training for drivers and pedestrians, improve vehicles and, like the children, improve the state of our roads.
Imposing more fines was seen as a "totally ineffective" method by the children. Effective solutions included improving vehicles and implementing more traffic regulations.
Children know more than we think, though there is still room for improvement
The main traffic rules and regulations have been assimilated by children. Indeed, the report showed that 88% said they would fasten their seat belt even if it were not mandatory.
Similarly, 68% said they would not feel happy in a car that was overtaking other vehicles as if in a race.
However, 91% of them were wrong in contending that regulations and signs only serve to impose fines, as were 71% who believe it is safer to travel by car than by bus (statistically, it is much safer by bus).
Nor were they right when saying that "when the roads are safer you can take more risks" (something that 81% believe). Furthermore, 25% of them thought that wearing a seat belt can sometimes be more dangerous than not wearing one. This last point is especially noteworthy and would explain why many children refuse to travel properly strapped into in a child restraint system: their ignorance as to its efficacy and importance. This is undoubtedly something that we need to continue working to instill through more and better road safety education.