Every time I drive on a narrow windy hilly road in Jamaica during after school hours the urge to wind down my window and speak to children walking is strong.
In fact, there has been many times that I’ve done it.
In Jamaica, many young children are left to walk home whether alone or in groups, and just like children, they are carefree and having lots of fun.
I see them running in the roads, walking in groups of 5 or more with half of them in the middle of the road. Recently, I saw a girl throw her bottle in the air while crossing one of the newly paved larger than life roads… it fell and she stopped to pick it up, not looking whether or not a car was coming.
These road practices by many of our children are not safe and can cause more harm than good. We talk a lot about road safety in terms of drivers, but I’m not sure about pedestrians… especially children!
I’m not a road safety expert, however from what I’ve seen here are some of my tips!
Walk in groups.
I’ve heard this piece of advice from ever since I was a child, it might not always be feasible but it’s definitely safer.
Don’t get distracted.
A lot of times, the children are distracted as they walk home. They’re on phones, listening to music or talking and end up walking absentmindedly.
Always look before crossing the roads. Ensure that you’re walking as close to the sides of the roads as possible.
Walk Single File.
This means that less persons are in the road.
No running, playing or jumping in the road.
In some specific examples I can think of, often times there isn’t even a sidewalk for the children to walk on. When I went to Clarendon and some parts of St. Andrew, the children were either against the mountains (which makes it harder to see them around a corner) or they had to walk on the edge of the mountain when there are no barriers to prevent them from falling.
So yes, I want our children to practice safer behaviours on the road, but the road also needs to be safer for them! Roads are not just made for cars, but for motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians… Jamaica- step up!
Let me know if children are taught road safety in schools! What other tips do you have?
Samantha C. Johnson