I’ve always secretly felt rather pleased that my children’s school isn’t within walking distance if I’m honest, I don’t have the option to walk or cycle them to school, driving is the only way to get there. Apart from the obvious lazy bones in me that just does not fancy trying to wrangle three kids to school and then preschool at 8.15am five days a week, there is also the safety aspect that really nags at me. Although we live in a quiet rural town, the roads nearby and leading to school are pretty busy roads and notorious for accidents, especially in winter when it’s icy and the visibility is so bad. That low winter sun really kicks butt in the countryside and fog is common – we aren’t too far from the sea.
When I was at secondary school I remember walking to and from school every day, it was within the town (or rather the next town over) and it was just my norm. From around 12 years old I would walk a couple of miles to and from school every day, I didn’t have the luxury of my mum dropping me off, she was already at work by 8am and never home until around 5pm, so walking was a big part of my older years at school. When I was at primary school I would usually be on the bus, which would pull up directly outside the front door, not unlike my boy’s school now so the dangers of walking didn’t really become apparent until I was a bit older, and even then – like most kids – I never twigged. When I think back to how many times I would walk along the side of the road in my big, thick, darkly coloured school coat when it was already getting dark, it makes me cringe – there just wasn’t any thought that I wouldn’t be visible. I’m going back 15 years (annnnddd a bit more…) here when there were fewer cars and fewer accidents involving pedestrians.
As the children have gotten older and wanted to walk into town instead of being stuck in their pushchairs, I’ve become more conscious of road safety as a parent. They have reflective lights on their scooters and we talk a lot about road safety now, remembering to look where you are, to make sure there is nothing coming, to never mess around near the road etc.
More recently there have been children dashing across the main road near our school to reach the bus stop on the other side that will take them home, their parents still at work and the school bus going in the wrong direction. It’s been cause of a few fears, this is a road where a child from before our time at the school was hit by a car in poor visibility and killed. It’s winter, it’s icy, bleak weather that screams of road danger, and yet I think back to when I was the one walking to school and dashing across the roads when it was dusky and the visibility was bad and I can honestly say, hand on heart, I didn’t have a clue that I was doing something so… risky. Now that I am not only a mum but also a driver, I kind of feel it as a double tension when I see children doing daft things or I hear about them. As a driver I step back and assess how perhaps that might affect my driving – I know that I go a little too fast sometimes when I’m in a rush, I think a lot of us do.
That’s why I’m getting behind Auto traders #SwearToChange campaign. They are calling for all of us to assess our driving and if we’re walking or on bikes, to assess our road safety and make a pledge to change our behaviour in 2019. Think about how you drive ( as I said above, I drive a little too fast when I’m in a rush – I know that I do and I shouldn’t) and what you can do to make yourself more visible to cars if you are walking. For 2019 I want to think more carefully about how I drive, and change up those bad habits like driving a little too fast or perhaps drinking coffee in the car on the motorway when both hands are better on the wheel. I also want to make sure that I am discussing road safety more with my children and how they can be better pedestrians.
Autotrader are giving away 250 high vis jackets, 500 high vis back pack covers and 500 high vis leads during this 4 week campaign with the hope that it will help dog walkers, cyclists and pedestrians with bags be more visible during rotten weather and darker times of commuting. If you want to be in with the chance of winning your very own #SwearToChange accessories and find out more details then head over to the Autotrader website here. You can see Reuben using his Autotrader back pack in this short video below!
It’s got to be a partnership between us all, but I really do think that with a few tweaks to how we drive and how we get about, we can make all the difference!