As of yesterday, your children and grandchildren have returned to school. Boraine Police Inspector Bertrand Caroy spoke on the set of RTLINFO13H about the safety of the journey from home to school.
At what age do you think we can enable our children to travel alone from home to school?
Bertrand Carroy: You know, I’m not going to talk directly about a specific age, but I’m going to talk mainly about the child’s attitude. Once we realize that the child can circulate properly and safely with his bike, we can trust him.
Does it really depend on maturity from child to child?
Bertrand Carroy: You should already know how long the child has been riding a bike. One cannot say to a child who has been riding a bicycle for two months: Now you can go to school alone.
How do you know how to determine that your child is ready and can be left to walk or bike to school alone?
Bertrand Carroy: I think you should go for a walk with the child and then go a little bit away from the child and see how he reacts, see how he drives, see if he is having fun on the public road – which is prohibited – and most of all see if he reacts well to other road users who may pose a danger to him. Once we see that the child is riding safely, then we can trust him and leave him alone.
That is, you still have to accompany them for a long time during the trip and make the trip with them for a long time on foot or by bike if you decide to change the means of transportation. ?
Bertrand Carroy: Like education, I think parents, adults should accompany the child, show him the route and explain the dangers on the road. Then they can trust him, but only when it is certain that the child can move without risk. (…) You must be able to show the child where he can walk or ride a bicycle in complete safety.
How to limit the risks on the way to school? Let’s take a walking trip for example, what are the big problem areas and how can we be sure our child will be able to identify them?
Bertrand Carroy: It is necessary to determine in particular the places where the cyclist or pedestrian must cross the road. You really need to explain there that you should cross in safe, well-lit places and always go to places where there are adults. A child should not be alone in a place on a public highway without being accompanied by at least one adult – even if it is not from his own family – but children should not feel alone, abandoned.
Should we teach our children road safety rules as such?
Bertrand Carroy: Yes, it is very important for the child to understand that road safety rules are part of our life. After the child leaves home, he obeys the rules of the road. This is not a playground, this is a public road. So at some point adults have to educate children about the rules of the road.
At what age can this training start?
Bertrand Carroy: As soon as you can explain certain things to children, you should. You have to explain the rules of the road to them directly. It can start very early.
Isn’t one of the keys also to provide a long enough time so that the child is not stressed and does not have to ride the bike too fast?
Bertrand Carroy: I think we should get up earlier. It is necessary to prepare the child so that he can calmly go to school and be able to go through this journey without a problem. It is the parents who must arrange for the child to leave on time.