This is a good question, although it’s got a bit of a ‘how long is a piece of string’ answer! It’s one of those issues where it’s hard to pinpoint an exact time and age.
There are a number of factors involved when children become ready and have road sense, not least based on how much they’ve been taught about road safety and their general ability to understand the dangers. However, as a rough guide, UK government road safety advisors suggest that children won’t be ready to cross roads independently until they’re at least eight years old. But even then, they won’t necessarily be ready for big, busy main roads, and many children take longer to feel safe when crossing roads on their own at all.
As a parent or carer, the best thing you can do to ensure children learn road sense is to help get them equipped with road safety knowledge. This doesn’t mean just telling them about it, but actually doing it and setting a good example yourself, as children will learn from observing your actions.
You can help to equip your child with road sense in many ways. For example, by choosing safe places to cross the road and explaining your choices to your child, so they understand why you chose that spot or why you’re using the pedestrian crossing. As they get older, you could encourage them to choose where you’ll both cross the road.
You could slowly introduce more responsibility, such as them crossing on their own with you watching from a short distance away, crossing with a sibling or friend and, eventually, without supervision.
Teaching them the Green Cross Code is essential, as is learning when it’s safe to cross the road, why to avoid crossing between parked cards or on bends of the road. Parents are understandably protective of their children and keen to shield them from harm or road accidents, but road sense is something that is best learnt from being out there and learning from example.
Ultimately, parents know their own children well and are usually the best judge of when a child is clued up, confident and sensible enough to put the issues into action and cross roads on their own.
I hope that helps provide you with some answers.