Drive as if your children are watching you, says educational psychologist Anel Annandale, because they are.

Cape Town - When it comes to road safety, children might be the ones teaching their parents.

A new survey of South African households has revealed that 96 percent of children wish their parents would drive more safely.

Short-term insurance company Santam commissioned researcher imagineNation Alliance and an educational psychologist to conduct the survey.

Santam spokesman Donald Kau said: “This survey is about putting a mirror up and showing people how we put our loved ones at risk every day.

“We are hoping, through education, to show people how the smallest changes in thinking can make us safer.”

Researchers interviewed 1000 children aged seven to 12. The goal was to learn about how children learned about road, home and personal safety.

“I worry in case an accident happens.”

“It makes me cross, because it is against the law,” one Cape Town nine-year-old said.

The survey asked about a number of safety rules including using a cellphone, drinking, and applying make-up while driving.

One of the main findings was that parents were very good at telling their children what the rules were, but they were not so great at taking their own advice. Sixty percent of children surveyed thought their parents didn’t follow the rules they taught.

The problem is that children are more likely to mirror actions than follow rules.

Even if children know what good driving should look like, as they get older they default into the bad habits they observe in their parents.

The psychologist who worked on the study, Anel Annandale, said children were “primed” to imitate the adults in their lives.

“If we want our children to follow the safety rules, we have to make sure that we walk the walk as well as talk the talk,” Annandale said.

Cape Times