Use the below ideas to get you started. You can also use the Department for Transport’s detailed road safety lesson plans for secondary schools, which are split into subject groups. Teachers in Scotland can use Road Safety Scotland's teaching resources.
Before teaching road safety, remember to check whether any children have been bereaved by a road crash, and be sensitive to their feelings. They may wish to be excluded from road safety lessons that are about death or injury.
Pupils with learning difficulties should be given particular attention, to ensure they understand the rules of the road when on foot, and are able to put these rules into practice. A guide to teaching road safety on pupils with special education needs is available here.
Study statistics on deaths and injuries on roads. You could explore statistics surrounding road safety topics. Find visually engaging and significant ways to display them (eg. pie charts and bar graphs - you can find some examples in these research reports into driver safety). Make a display for other pupils to look at.
Hold a discussion about the benefits of walking and cycling for health, and the hazards this exposes you to. Explore why people on foot and bicycles are more at risk of being killed or injured than people in vehicles because of their greater vulnerability.
Devise and carry out a survey of the risks that people take on roads and their motives for doing so. Focus on surveying a particular ‘group’ such as fellow pupils who cycle, parents who drive to school, or older pupils who drive or are considering driving. For example, a survey on 13-year-olds’ attitudes to cycle helmet wearing, or a survey of 17 year-olds’ attitudes to speed limits.
If pupils dangerously cross the road near your school, you could video their behaviour and show the video in class. What are pupils doing wrong? Explore how to change their behaviour.
Explore the aftermath of crashes. Ask pupils to write a fictional newspaper article about a crash caused by a young driver which caused a death and serious injuries, including interviews with a police officer who attended the scene, and a bereaved family member. To help pupils understand the severity of injuries in road crashes, you could consider inviting a local A&E nurse or surgeon to talk to pupils about life-changing injuries such as brain damage and paralysis (some children may think that injuries are always minor or recoverable, and are a good way of getting attention in the playground, or getting off playing sport eg. a broken arm). You could use Brake’s online summary of recent national road safety news stories, including some on road crashes.
Study momentum. Why does it take vehicles longer to brake and stop if they are going at faster speed or are heavier? At 35mph in a car, you are twice as likely to kill someone you hit compared with at 30mph. You will find a chart of stopping distances at different speeds here.
Study scientific improvements in road safety, such as seat belts, air bags, crash helmets, protective clothing for motorbike riders, reflective and fluorescent materials. Devise science tests to demonstrate the effectiveness of such improvements, such as how reflective material glows in the dark when a light is shone on it. Stress that scientific improvements can’t ensure security from death or injury unless they are used by people who behave safely.
Survey local roads for hazards (e.g. speeding traffic - your local police force may lend you a radar gun to check the speed of traffic) and for road safety measures (e.g. crossings and lower speed limits). Show these hazards and road safety measures on a map, or take photos or videos. Create a display for other pupils and parents.
Create a poster or website about a road safety issue, such as the importance of concentrating when crossing the road, for example, by making sure you aren’t using your mobile phone or game boy or reading at the same time.
Write and perform a play that explores the temptations and pressures for to take risks on roads, and the possible consequences. For example, being in a hurry, or being with friends who want to mess about on the road with a football, or being with older friends who want you to get in a car with a dangerous driver who speeds. Discuss the emotions pupils feel in these situations and how to ‘speak up’ for the safe option.
Watch road safety TV and cinema adverts and look at road safety poster campaigns. Are they effective? Do they get the message across to you? If not, could you do any better? Government road safety adverts are available to watch online.