As COVID-19 restricts holiday travel to local destinations, regional hamlets will see a spike in visitors during the upcoming summer holidays, meaning it is more important than ever for parents to talk to their children about road safety – particularly while on holiday.
Busy holiday hotspots – with roads, shops, parks and beaches all close together – are exactly the kinds of places our message is most needed.
Children under 10 years of age have physical, perceptual and cognitive limitations around roadways which when coupled with the excitement of being on holiday, increases the risk factors of being involved in road trauma. It is also a new environment for children where the ‘’holiday” roadway environments can look different (lack kerb, gutter, line markings, safe pedestrian crossings or recognisable pathways) to what children are used to seeing and they may not therefore recognise them as a roadway.
Current data from the Australian Institute of Health and welfare indicates that the most common cause of death of children aged 1-14 years is ‘land transport accidents’ aka road trauma. Every parent and carer should be well aware of this fact!
Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation launched ‘Tom’s Holiday’, a children’s book that aims to raise critical awareness of the importance of road safety for children in unfamiliar environments. The book is an important new resource for the 2020 “Holiday Time – Slow Down Kids Around” road safety awareness campaign.
‘Tom’s Holiday’ reminds parents about the four key factors that increase the danger for children around roadways:
- Cognitive limitations – Children hear the word “stop” yet their body cannot process this command immediately to co-ordinate their body and brain together which can place them in grave danger. They also cannot judge speed and distance to accurately determine the time required to cross a road.
- Eyesight – Children’s peripheral vision has not fully developed until they are teenagers
- Hearing – Children cannot accurately predict the origins of sound particularly if they cannot yet see a vehicle coming.
- Height – A child’s size limits both their ability to be seen and ability to assess a roadway.
Michelle McLaughlin, Author and CEO, Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation says, “Since we lost our four year old son Tom in 2014, another 391 children have lost their lives to road trauma.”
“So, my simple message is to always talk to your children about road safety and be even more vigilant when you are on holiday because they are more excited than normal and always remember to continue to hold their hands around roadways until they are 10” she added.
“The release of Tom’s Holiday is a timely reminder that drivers need to keep a constant lookout for young pedestrians, particularly as we approach the holiday period” said Little Blue Dinosaur Ambassador, and Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP.
“A core priority of the Morrison Government is road safety, as we work towards zero fatalities and serious injuries on our roads”. “It’s great to see the release of Tom’s Holiday, which is a fantastic way to teach children and carers about road safety and which will undoubtedly become a valuable resource in road safety education.”
Fiona Martin, Federal Member for Reid says, “I am proud to have a longstanding relationship with the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation since it was first established, first as a Special Advisor and now as an Ambassador. The Foundation plays an important role in child pedestrian road safety initiatives by educating and advocating to keep our most vulnerable pedestrians safe. Tom’s Holiday is another excellent resource produced by the Foundation to help educate young children, and their families or carers, on the importance of pedestrian safety.”
Tom’s Holiday can be purchased from the Little Blue Dinosaur website www.littlebluedinosaur.org/shop for $10.00 plus postage and handling. All proceeds go back to the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation to create more road safety resources.
Look out for the “Holiday Time – Slow Down Kids Around” and “Hold My hand” campaigns as it will be active in 65 local government areas across NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria these school holidays.