Parents Can Dramatically Affect Their Children’s Future Safety by the Example they Set

People with children know how much their little ones like to emulate the things that parents do, whether it is an older sister trying to mother her younger siblings or a son playing ball with his daddy.

I took this photograph with my cellphone a few days ago, while parked and waiting for somebody. The mother has left her distracted little girl behind on what is a busy, parking lot road, with both of them seemingly oblivious to the danger. (Copyright image, 2019.)

For better or for worse, children also faithfully copy what they see their parents do on the roads, whether this is in a vehicle or as pedestrians (and this is research, incidentally, not just our opinion).

The photograph above was taken as described in the caption but I had seen the same family entering the building a few minutes earlier, that time with the little girl still engrossed in her cellphone but with the mother pulling her along by one arm. Even that scenario had me concerned because it would have been a good opportunity to teach the child that its important never to be distracted when crossing a road. However, at that point I was too slow to grab my camera and get a photograph. But when they came back out the situation was even worse, as the picture shows.

Sadly, there was clearly no chance of this little girl being taught always to stop at a roadside, look left, look right, look left again, and then cross carefully if the road was clear, and keep looking and listening for danger as she crossed.

The video clip above is from Britain (but remember they drive on the left and have footballs that are round!). This is just one recent, national television commercial from an ever-updated campaign that has gone on for decades

Here’s a question for all readers: How much part does the inadequate teaching of safety when crossing roads — either from parents or from governmental safety bodies — play in America’s very high road-death toll and in the catastrophically high number of pedestrian killed in the USA each year? It must surely be a factor, and possibly a very big factor.

Exactly the same goes for parents ALWAYS wearing seatbelts in vehicles — front seats and rear when applicable, and even when just going down your own driveway to check the mailbox before going to the store. Anytime a child sees a parent with no seatbelt, it gives them a reason or an excuse or a belief that a belt isn’t ALWAYS needed. But it is!

And the same goes for not getting angry with other drivers. Why teach your kids that road rage is sometimes acceptable?

There are scores of things that could potentially harm your child, or worse, on any road so please take the time to think things through. If you wouldn’t like your children to copy what you do when driving or walking, then don’t do it! Your good example at all times could quite literally save your child’s life in the future.

And what is needed from governmental bodies? Well just one of those things is an ongoing, research-based and target driven program of suitable PSA videos. The next clip below shows short excerpts from many of the child-targeted videos from Britain over the last 50+ years.

If ever you have questions about any aspect of road safety for your family, please come back to this Advanced Drivers of North America website ( and use the Contact Us form to ask. If we do not know a particularly technical answer, we will know somebody who does.

As with our defensive driving and advanced driving courses, everything we do is research-based and/or best-practise driven because — no matter how well intended — mere opinion can be a very dangerous source in road safety issues.


Please be aware that this website is registered with the United States Copyright Office and that punitive legal action for damages may be taken against anyone who breaches our copyright. This, however, does not stop you from posting links to any of our pages, and you are welcome to do so.

The two THINK! videos on this page are clearly not covered by our ADoNA copyright.

Author: EddieWren

Eddie Wren is the CEO and Chief Instructor at Advanced Drivers of North America. His driver safety background is given at:

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