Walking and road safety for children

Children under 12 should not cross the road alone. They still don't understand danger and can't judge how far away a car is or how fast it's moving.

Walking with children

Always accompany children on or near roads. Hold their hands at all times.

You can help them stay safe by:

  • wearing reflective or high-vis clothing at night and on country roads
  • using a torch on poorly lit roads and especially on country roads

Learning and teaching road safety

You need to teach children about road safety from when they are very young.

Teach your child the Safe Cross Code song for crossing the road. The words help them learn to:

  • look for a safe place to cross the road
  • stop and wait
  • look all around and listen before they cross the road
  • let all the traffic pass them
  • keep watching as they walk straight across the road

The song, the words and a game for children to play are all available on the Road Safety Authority (RSA)'s Safe Cross Code site.

The RSA also has lots more information to help children learn to use roads safely.

Remember - children mostly learn by copying, so be sure to follow the rules yourself.

Go out walking in the local area with your child and talk about the risks you come across. This should help you find out what your child thinks is safe and what you need to remind them about.

Aside from the Safe Cross Code, you should tell children:

  • to hold your hand at all times
  • not to cross the road between parked cars
  • not to play around parked cars
  • to cross at traffic lights or pedestrian crossings if possible
  • never to cross at a bend
  • to use a footpath if there is one
  • not to run out to meet or wave goodbye to visitors while a car is moving

If there is no footpath, teach children to walk:

  • on the right-hand side of the road, facing oncoming traffic
  • close to the side of the road

Driveways and at home

Teach your child the importance of road safety in the driveway or avenue of their home.

Teach them to not go near moving vehicles. Teach them to look out for reversing vehicles.

Show them the blind spots so that they further understand the importance of safety.

Page last reviewed: 17 June 2019
Next review due: 17 June 2022