Study confirms key role parents can play as ‘road safety role models’

Academics at UCL have produced a guide for use by road safety officers, teachers and others looking to engage parents of primary school aged children in road safety.

The guide has been published on the back of a two-year research project, funded by the Road Safety Trust and completed in 2019, which evaluated road safety education initiatives targeting parents of children under 11 years of age.

Dr Sarah O’Toole from the Centre of Transport Studies at UCL, who led the project, said: “Children are a highly vulnerable group; in 2019 there were 2,455 children killed or seriously injured on the roads across the UK.

“However, a survey in 2019 by RoSPA found that less than half of all primary school children had received road safety education.

“In the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic there is likely to be an increase in the number of families travelling by active means, such as walking. Ensuring that young children have the necessary road safety skills is therefore vital.”

The Road Safety Trust awarded a grant to UCL to undertake a project exploring how to effectively engage parents in their child’s road safety education, especially parents from deprived backgrounds.

The project first explored current road safety practices across the UK, before going on to evaluate three of the best examples of parent road safety education.

The results confirmed that parents are road safety role models, and have frequent opportunities to teach their children.

It also concluded that parental engagement in road safety education has a positive impact on children’s knowledge and behaviour, and as such parents need to be aware of up-to-date road safety messages.

Sarah O’Toole added: “The guide features advice on how to effectively recruit and engage parents in road safety education, as well as examples of current effective parent road safety initiatives. This includes advice and support on engaging with parents of children with special educational needs who are especially vulnerable on the roads.

“It is designed for use by anyone looking to engage parents of children under 11 years old in road safety, including local authority road safety practitioners, schools, children centres, road safety partnerships and charities.”

The guide can be found on the Road Safety Trust website.

25 March 2021