Role swap on the way to school

28 Sept 2023
For many children, the famous "serious side of life" has begun in recent weeks. Many of them, but also children already at school, will be making their way there on their own for the first time. “Other road users can be a big help getting the kids to and from school safely,” says DEKRA accident researcher Andreas Schäuble. In the period following the start of a new academic year all road users will have to be particularly considerate and attentive, and in particular if out and about near schools, nursery schools, sports fields, and bus stops.
Unlike adults, children have a severely limited field of vision. This means they can't see danger out of the corner of their eye. Motorists should be aware of a small child’s capabilities. Children are still very self-centered. For example, when vehicles approach, they assume, "I see the car, so it sees me.”
In addition, young children are very focused on one thing and may not notice an approaching vehicle or may not notice it until it is too late if they are distracted. On account of their height, they can also often fail to have the required situational awareness in traffic situations. Even a normal-sized car will obstruct their view. In turn, motorists find it very difficult to detect children, either at the side or behind their vehicle. Motorists should pay especial attention to these points in places regularly frequented by children and drive carefully.
Schäuble reminds parents that they should practice the route to school with their children, if possible during normal school hours, and not just when traffic is light, on weekends or holidays. He suggests that adults also practice the route by swapping roles, i.e., that the children take the parents to school, the parents having the children explain where danger lurks and what they need to watch out for along the way.