The TÜV association calls for more safety for children on…

(Berlin) – With the start of the new school year, significantly more children participate in road traffic. Although fewer and fewer children have had accidents since the 1990s, the number stagnated at almost 30,000 a year before Corona. And measured in relation to their traffic performance, children are still particularly vulnerable on the road. According to the Federal Statistical Office, around 22,300 children under the age of 15 were involved in road accidents in 2021. 49 children died in road accidents. “Although the number of children involved in accidents reached a low point in 2021 due to the corona pandemic, the accident figures for adults in 2022 indicate that this trend will not continue,” says Marc-Philipp Waschke, a road safety officer at the TÜV Association. “Our predominantly car-friendly traffic space design puts the weak at a disadvantage – especially pedestrians and cyclists as well as the elderly and children. We need to make road traffic safe and forgiving so that accidents can be avoided.” The TÜV association is therefore calling for measures in line with the zero vision to better protect vulnerable road users. This includes, among other things, expansion of the cycling infrastructure, speed limits in front of educational facilities and an expansion of pre-school and school traffic education. Waschke: “Traffic education is important from a young age for road safety and to promote independence in children.”

From the TÜV association’s point of view, the rapid expansion of the cycling infrastructure is particularly important. Children riding bicycles were particularly vulnerable in 2021. 38 percent of children under the age of 15 who were involved in traffic accidents were riding bicycles, 33 percent were in the car and 21 percent were walking. “The entire cycling infrastructure must be intuitively usable and attractive for all age groups and mobility purposes,” says Waschke. “A consistent, high-quality cycling network covering the entire area creates direct connections and thus promotes easy, safe and fluid cycling.”

Protection of pedestrians must also be a focus in traffic planning. Structurally separated footpaths and cycle paths as well as speed limits or traffic calming areas are essential near kindergartens, playgrounds, schools and also on designated school routes according to the school route maps. In addition, there is also a need for speed-reducing construction measures such as additional traffic lights, zebra crossings, central islands in the area of ​​the rest of the main traffic network, if there are particular dangers for children and young people.

Traffic education: School children should know these rules

While daycare children and 1st grade students are usually accompanied by their parents, older children also come to school on their own. It is advisable to teach them basic road safety etiquette before hitting the road alone. “Traffic education is important from a young age for road safety and to promote independence in children,” says Waschke. “Children who are prepared to behave safely in traffic already in kindergarten are better able to find their way around later on the way to school.” In the view of the TÜV association, it is therefore necessary to expand road safety education in early childhood. Even with small children, parents can practice the basic rules of correct behavior in road traffic and should be supported by qualified specialists at educational institutions. The TÜV association has compiled the most important rules of conduct for children.

Crossing streets: Stop, look and listen!

Parents should practice crossing a street extensively with their children because children are often excited in such situations, want to move quickly, have difficulty judging the speed of vehicles, and are easily distracted. In principle, children should always use traffic lights or traffic lights. At traffic lights, children must learn the meaning of red, orange and green lights. At crosswalks, children must stop, focus on the road and look both ways to ensure the path is clear. With oncoming traffic, they must make eye contact with drivers to ensure they are seen. If there is no safe crossing, children should never run between parked vehicles into the street. There they are not visible to other road users.

Cycling: Be careful at entrances and exits

By practicing with balance bikes, children today learn to ride a bike at a very early age. However, official cycling training is only on the curriculum in third and fourth grade, when the children complete a cycling test at a youth traffic school. Parents therefore have the task of teaching their children to master the bicycle and the basic rules of the road. Especially children who are just learning to ride a bike often fall. A bicycle helmet is therefore an essential part of the equipment. Bicycle helmets do not prevent accidents, but they do reduce the likelihood of serious head injuries.

Children up to the age of eight may not ride on the road or marked cycle paths in the street, but must use the pavement or a cycle path that is structurally separated from the street. Only one adult may accompany the cyclist under the age of eight on the pavement. Children must learn to pay attention to pedestrians. Entrances and exits are a particular point of danger for them. Children should therefore learn to stop here or slow down and see if the path is clear. Children between the ages of eight and ten can choose between the street, footpath and cycle path. From the age of ten, they must ride on the cycle path or the road.

Avoid distractions and street games

In inner city areas, lawns and playgrounds often border busy traffic roads. Children should not play games, push or hide between parked vehicles on sidewalks. If the toy or ball rolls away, don’t blindly chase after it. They should also avoid distractions. Older children in particular often carry their cell phones in front of them these days. The use of mobile phones limits the attention of pedestrians. In road traffic, especially when crossing streets, smartphones belong in your pocket. Children should also refrain from listening to music through headphones to better perceive possible sources of danger.

Other road users must take this into account

Smaller children in first or second grade are only between 110 and 128 cm tall and can therefore easily be overlooked by other road users. Children up to the age of seven cannot distinguish between a stationary vehicle and a vehicle moving towards them. Drivers therefore have a special responsibility for the safety of children. They should reduce their speed, be especially careful and avoid any distraction, especially near schools, kindergartens, playgrounds and in residential areas.

Source and contact address:
TÜV Verband eV Maurice Shahd, Head of Communications Friedrichstr. 136, 10117 Berlin Phone: (030) 760095-400, Fax: (030) 760095-401

(mw)

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