To help children explore their own and others’ opinions through discussion and debate.
- To talk about different ways of using roads
- To learn about danger from traffic
- To understand why fast traffic is particularly dangerous
- To learn why slow speed limits help people make safer journeys.
- Participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play/improvisations and debates
- Articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
- Consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others.
- Resolve differences by looking at alternatives; see and respect others’ points of view; make decisions and explain choices.
- To listen and respond respectfully to a wide range of people, including those whose traditions, beliefs and lifestyle are different to their own
- To discuss and debate topical issues, respect other people’s point of view and constructively challenge those they disagree with
- To learn how to predict, assess and manage risk in different situations; strategies for keeping safe in the local environment or unfamiliar places (rail, water, road); safe use of digital devices when out and about.
- Print and cut out the road safety statements and labels, with enough copies for each group. Each group discusses the same set of statements.
- Click on the links below to download the resources you need.
Why do we need to talk about speed?
It’s not a nice fact to hear but every day five people die on our roads. Speed is a factor in many crashes but lots of people still think it’s ok to speed or drive too fast for the road conditions. When we use roads, we all need to use them safely, to protect ourselves and each other.
Slow traffic and safe places to walk and cycle are essential for children to make safe and healthy journeys.
Here are some questions you can ask
- How did you get to school today? For example, they might walk, use a wheelchair, cycle or scoot to school, or travel as passengers in a car, on a motorbike, or on a bus or tram.
- Do you feel safe when you travel to and from school?
- What do you think about the traffic near our school? Is it fast or slow? Noisy or quiet? Does it smell? Does it make you feel excited, happy, nervous or frightened?
- When do you think it’s good to move fast? For example in a race, or if we’re late.
- When is it better to be slow and careful?
Remind pupils that sadly lots of people get hurt on roads and speeding traffic is often involved.
Road safety facts
- Worldwide, road crashes are the biggest killer of young people aged 5–29.
- More than six children are seriously hurt or killed every single day on UK roads.
- Fast traffic is dangerous, frightening and noisy.
- All vehicles are heavy and hard and can hurt us very badly if they hit us.
- The faster we drive, the greater the risk of crashing.
- At higher speeds, vehicles hit harder and cause more severe injuries.
- Slower speeds save lives.
- Slow traffic creates happier, healthier communities.
It is important to remember that speed is a factor in every road crash. Whether or not a vehicle was breaking the speed limit, the fact it was involved in a crash means it was going too fast to have stopped in time.
- Introduction and discussion
Explain to the class that you are taking part in Road Safety Week and they are going to be learning and talking about speed. Choose some of the questions or road safety facts from the list above to talk about, depending on pupils’ age and ability.
- Small group or pair activity
Ask pupils to work in pairs or small groups to discuss some statements about road safety. For each statement they will need to decide whether they think the statement is TRUE, FALSE or say they are NOT SURE
- Ask a few pupils to share their answers with the class, and explain how they made their decisions.
- Whole class discussion
Discuss each statement (or a few of them). Call for a show of hands for TRUE, FALSE or NOT SURE
- Talk about their answers and what they might mean:
- New cars can’t drive faster than the speed limit – FALSE Some cars have technology that keeps them within speed limits or warns drivers they are going too fast. Not all cars have it though and sometimes drivers turn it off.
- Sometimes it’s ok to drive faster than the speed limit – FALSE In an emergency, the police, fire services or an ambulance can break the speed limit. No one else is allowed to break the speed limit in any circumstances.
- Everyone should drive slowly near schools – TRUE Slower speeds give drivers more time to react if a child steps out in front of them. They will be able to stop more quickly and avoid a crash.
- Fast traffic is dangerous – TRUE Fast traffic is dangerous, frightening and noisy. The faster a vehicle is travelling, the worse the crash, and the greater the chance of injury or even death.
- It’s OK to break the speed limit if you’re a good driver – FALSE Speed limits are the law. No one is allowed to drive faster than the speed limit except the police, fire service and ambulances if they are responding to an emergency.
- The speed limit should be 20mph on roads near schools – TRUE Where traffic is slow, more people choose to walk or cycle. 20mph is the right speed in places where people live, work and play.
- Everyone drives too fast – TRUE and FALSE We all drive too fast sometimes but most drivers don’t do it on purpose. 
- Driving just a little bit over the speed limit doesn’t matter – FALSE Every mile per hour increase in speed increases the risk of a crash, and increases the risk of death or serious injury.
- Self-driving cars are safer – NOT SURE Self-driving cars have the potential to be safer. Humans often make mistakes that cause crashes and self-driving vehicles have technology that helps prevent crashes. However, self-driving vehicles are not allowed on our roads yet.
- Slow traffic means more people walk or cycle – TRUE Where traffic is slow more people choose to walk or cycle. To walk and cycle safely, children need slow traffic, safe footpaths, safe cycle paths and safe places to cross roads. 
Optional activity – People have different viewpoints
- Establish which statements everyone agrees on, and which have a range of opinions. Explain that people don’t always agree on things. Introduce the concept of compromise and point out how people need to find ways to work together when they have different viewpoints.
- Point out that we live in a democratic society where everyone can try to change things and get their message across but in a large group there is often a difference of opinion. Point out that voting, after a discussion, is a good way of making a decision as a group. Ask the class if they know of any other methods of voting, such as: show of hands, division (moving to one side of the room), secret ballot, placing marbles in a jar, etc.
- Stress the importance of discussion and listening to others so that voting is based on understanding of all the issues. Choose a voting method to make a decision as a group.
Follow-on activity – A road safety postcard
Pupils will send a road safety postcard home to their parents and carers, asking them to keep them safe near roads and reminding them that children need slow traffic for their journeys to be safe.
- Explain to the children that they are going to take a postcard home to their grown up(s) to ask them to keep them safe near roads.
- Show the children the postcard and talk to them about the pictures on the postcard. Depending on ability, ask the children to read the messages aloud, or read the messages to them.
- Ask children to colour in the postcard and write their name on the front and back.
- Ask them to think about who they want to send the postcard to, and to write their name on the back too. Ask them to give the postcard to their grown up. Explain that they can tell their grown up there is an important message to read and ask them to display the postcard proudly to show that they understand the importance of keeping children safe near roads.
- Explain that you will also be sending a letter home to tell parents and carers about the postcard.
Note: you may need to remind children that they cannot put this postcard in a letter box, unless they put it in a stamped, addressed envelope!
- A Brake survey found that while more than three-quarters (77%) of drivers admitted to ever breaking speed limits, 42% of drivers said they break only speed limits by mistake. Brake (2018) Speed: Brake and Direct Line report
- Research by Brake found that 25% of parents think traffic is too fast for their children to walk to school