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2014-04-15 11:24

BE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR KIDS: Educational psychologist Anel Annandale believes that parents should be consistent when it comes to road safety and not send conflicting messages through bad behaviour. Image: SHUTTERSTOCK

'Do as I say, not as I do‘ seems to be the mentality with most parents in South Africa but when it comes to road safety, it might be children whom adults need to learn from, at least according to a new survey.

Insurance specialists Santam conducted a survey of South African households and revealed that 96% of children wished their parents would take fewer risks on the road.


The survey was based on interviews with 1000 7 – 12-year-olds in South Africa and made some startling revelations on driver safety.

According to Santam:  Respondents could choose from a list of common home and car safety rules. The survey was conducted in Metropolitan areas with households that had at least one vehicle.“

"When you look at the world from a child’s perspective it will change how you approach everyday risks. We commissioned a leading researcher and a psychologist to investigate how South African children understand safety and what they learn from the adults around them."

Our Santam safety survey discovered that 60% of children don't believe adults follow the rules that they teach them. To make the next generation safer we all need to consider not just what we tell our children, but also what we show them is safe behaviour.

According to Santam: "96% of the children we spoke to wish their parents would take fewer risks while driving."

The survey revealed which safety rules adults are most likely to disobey:

Using a phone while driving - 31.6%
Not wearing a seatbelt - 24.9%
Driving over the speed limit - 13.5%
Smoking while driving - 8.1%
Changing music/radio while driving - 6.7%
Skipping red traffic lights - 5.4%
Not keeping both hands on the steering wheel - 3.6%
Other - 2.6%
Not keeping your eyes on the road - 1.7%
Putting on make-up while driving - 1.3%

Sadly, 0.8% of respondents believed their parents never broke the rules of the road.


According to the survey, 54% of children believe their fathers are the biggest rule-breakers while only 30.3% believed their mothers broke road safety rules.

The majority of children (87.2%) stated that their mothers taught them road safety rules followed by teachers (69.7%) and fathers (67.5%).

The survey revealed that 97.2% of respondents believed “drinking and driving” to be the most dangerous offence on the road.

Important rules of the road according to children:

Don't drink and drive - 97.2%
Don't go through a red traffic light - 94.4.%
Always use a seatbelt - 91.7%
Don't use a mobile phone while driving - 90.1%
Keep your eyes on the road - 89.7%
Don't apply make-up while driving - 83.8%
Keep both hands on the wheel - 79.4%


Anel Annandale, an educational psychologist who worked on the survey, said: "There are neurons in the brain that help children copy exactly what they see. That's why when you stick your tongue out to a six-week old they will do the same. Initially, we are primed to first copy actions and only later do we get to the verbal behaviour."

According to the study, the most important thing a parent can do when teaching their children about safety, is to be consistent. Annandale said: “This is something you need to prepare for. Unconscious behaviours need to be reprogrammed to lead to conscious decisions. You need to decide on the rules and what's important."

Read more on:    santam  |  south africa  |  driving  |  road safety

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