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In focus: THINK! Advert – King of the Road (Hedgehogs) (1998)

Do you remember the King of the Road advert from 1998? The advert was aimed at children and was part of a larger Hedgehog Road Safety campaign run by Think!, the government website aimed at improving road safety. We can all do our part to improve safety for pedestrians and drivers, but it is vitally important that we teach young children how to respect the roads and to stay safe whenever they are near them.

The importance of the Green Cross Code

The King of the Road advert followed on from the Green Cross Code – something that is still taught to children today. The Green Cross Code follows some simple directions:

  • Think – where is the best place to cross?
  • Stop – don’t cross without checking first that it is safe
  • Look and listen for traffic
  • Wait (in case something is coming at speed that you didn’t see or hear the first time)
  • Look and listen again
  • Cross the road safely

If this is taught when children are young, they will grow up and respect the road and understand how to cross safely. If children aren’t taught these essential safety measures, they could be at greater risk of being hit by a car.

What does the King of the Road advert teach children?

The advert only ran for about 40 seconds, and changed the words of the famous song King of the Road to be relevant to crossing roads safely. An adult hedgehog and its young child were seen waiting for traffic to pass before crossing. The advert finished with them doing this safely, before the slogan ‘Stop, look, listen, live’ appeared on the screen. It was clearly designed for a young audience, as the hedgehogs are shown as cartoons, and the imagery is not frightening.

Where should you cross the road safely?

The government has a website dedicated to younger children called ‘Tales of the Road’. This includes a game for children called ‘Safer Place to Cross’. The child is tasked with getting home safely, by finding pedestrian crossings, footbridges, and crossing wardens to help them do so safely.

Often, crossing the road involves simple common sense. For example, never cross on a bend, because you cannot see whether there is any traffic coming. You cannot simply rely on your hearing to get you across safely, because there could be a cyclist coming along at speed. Furthermore, if you were to cross on a bend, you wouldn’t have enough time to react if a speeding car came along and was suddenly on top of you.

Road accidents involving pedestrians

The casualty rate per billion passenger miles, as given in a report from the Department of Transport in 2014, was 2,110 for pedestrians. This compares with just 286 for car occupants. This shows just how important it is for pedestrians to stay safe and be alert. In a collision between a vehicle and a person, the pedestrian is always going to incur more serious injuries.

Likely injuries you could potentially suffer from if hit by a vehicle

Someone who is struck by a vehicle could incur serious and multiple injuries. Firstly, there is the impact of the vehicle, but there is also the chance of receiving injuries by landing on the ground following the initial impact.

Leg, back and head injuries could all potentially occur. The legs are most likely to suffer injuries upon impact because of the height of the vehicle, and the fact this is the area of the body that will be struck first. Head injuries may be caused by flying onto the vehicle or being thrown to the ground after impact.

While some people are lucky and may not be seriously injured, others have been gravely hurt or even sadly lost their lives. The more we can teach our children to observe the road and its potential dangers, the less likely it is they will be involved in accidents like these. The King of the Road advert was just one of several superb adverts aimed at children that hopefully got the message across to a generation of young children. If they go on to teach their own children the good habits they learned, another generation of children could benefit from that original advert.

Has your child been injured in a road accident?

No one wants their child to be hit by a car or other vehicle. The King of the Road advert was designed specially to make sure children became more aware of crossing safely, thus reducing the chances they would be injured. However, there are rare cases where children (and indeed adults) have been injured even when they did everything correctly. If a driver isn’t paying attention to the road, perhaps because they are looking elsewhere or trying to use their phone, for example, there may be an increased risk they would hit a child or other road user. As we have seen, the injuries that could potentially happen in this situation can be very serious.

Even though the King of the Road advert is many years old now, the need to promote safe use of pavements and roads is still as important as ever. In 2015, 24% of road deaths were pedestrians. While this represented a decrease of 9% on the previous year, pedestrians account for more casualties on a pro rata basis than those in cars. Car occupants accounted for 78% of the traffic on the roads, and yet 44% of deaths could be attributed to this group.

Was your child injured?

If your child has been injured recently while crossing the road, and you believe the driver or cyclist was at fault, be sure to call Accident Advice Helpline for some no-obligation advice now. You can do this on 0800 689 5659. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of adverts such as King of the Road, accidents can still happen, and sometimes they happen even when the child did everything correctly – simply because someone else was negligent.