The traffic information and awareness Unit of the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) is cautioning parents to take extra responsibility for their children on the road from home to school and back.

As many schools are already opening their doors for the 2017 academic year, the Police Traffic Unit is reminding parent about the risks their kids are facing if they are not careful.

“Most accidents that involve kids are the ones with children using the public road alone and misjudge approaching vehicles and do not know how to use the roads safely,” stated the VPF Traffic Information and awareness Unit.

The statement informs parents that “young children do not have the skills to stay safe in traffic.

“They often can’t see past parked cars and they don’t have the experience to judge the speed and distance of an oncoming car.

“Parents and carers should teach children good traffic safety habits early.

“Children learn about road safety by watching others.

“Make sure you always set a good example.

“Always carefully supervise your children in traffic situations.

“Hold your child’s hand when you are near cars.

“Explain what you are doing when you cross the road together — this helps your child to understand how you decide when it is safe to cross. Explain traffic movement, road safety and road rules to your child; involve your child in choosing safe places to play.

“Make sure you get your child in and out of the car on the kerb side.”

Although children may think they can handle crossing a road by themselves, drivers are asked to remember that children:

• are smaller and harder for drivers to see;

• are less predictable than other pedestrians;

• cannot accurately judge the speed and distance of moving vehicles;

• cannot accurately predict the direction sounds are coming from;

• are unable to cope with sudden changes in traffic conditions;

• are easily distracted and focus on only one aspect of what is happening;

• do not understand abstract ideas — such as road safety;

• are unable to identify safe places to cross the road;

• tend to act inconsistently in and around traffic.

The police said all the factors support that children below the age of 10 years do not have the capability or judgement to handle many pedestrian situations. Children need to be accompanied and closely supervised by a parent or adult carer to keep them safer.

It is recommended by police that children are closely supervised by a parent or adult carer until they are at least 10 years of age.