8 Bright Ideas for Road Safety Week

By Alison Holland

Published: November 12, 2020

Kids in school.

Road Safety Week is approaching fast (but keeping within the speed limits of course!).

It runs every year in late November; a few weeks after the clocks will have gone back as the evenings are drawing in. The theme is different every year: for 2023 the theme is 'Speed'.

Here at Brightwayz we're sharing some of our fun road safety 'being bright' creative ideas for you to try too with your pupils or your own families.

Learning How to Be More Visible

On this blog the ideas come from our own archives, as well as from our customers, to help you teach children how to be safe and seen.

First; there are three important things to mention if you are teaching children to be bright… then onto the fun ideas.

1. Right Time, Right Place!

Reflectors for Night (but not daytime): It’s really surprising how many adults don’t realise that reflectors don’t work in the day (but they are amazingly bright in headlights after dark). So a reflector on a school bag for a primary school child will not be helping them in daytime or towards dusk. In almost all of the UK, even in mid winter, it is not dark when primary school pupils are walking home (unless they have a late after-school club). So pupils need to know that a reflector goes on a coat or bag which they take out after dark.

Fluorescent for Daytime (but not after dark): Being bright in daytime and especially towards dusk on the school run is important too; this is where fluorescent colours help… those bright neon colours stand out during daylight, especially in poor daylight such as near dusk. The best way to be bright and seen day (and night) is to wear a hi vis waistcoat as it has a large fluorescent area (and reflective stripes for night). However not everyone may choose this option and being able to walk to school in 'normal' clothing should be enough for a child to do.  The most important action is to address unsafe driving rather than what children wear after all! So blinging a bag or coat with fluorescent items will add brightness for the walk to school in a fun way, and encouraging parents to buy a brightly coloured coat for their children will be better instead of a dark one.

Our main message in our bright workshops is: Fluorescent for Day, Reflective for Night.


2. Being Bright Helps But is No Guarantee They’ll be Seen

It’s important children understand that being bright can help them to be seen, but bright clothes or hi vis waistcoats are not a suit of armour and we all need to take care near traffic. Drivers don’t always pay attention; although they should. Being bright can make it easier to be seen by drivers, but if the driver is looking down at their phone (which is against the law) they will not notice cyclists or walkers nearby however bright they are!

So make sure your pupils understand this and also get good all-round road safety training suitable for their age and habits.

3. Walking Gives Them Road Sense

Finally, children and parents shouldn’t be too scared to walk or let their children walk as long as the route is reasonably safe. By getting used to traffic and regularly walking when they are with their parents, children learn how to cope with it – they practice making decisions and need to gain this road sense.

By getting messages to parents about the many long term benefits of their children travelling in active ways, you may make them more willing to let their children walk or cycle… and reducing traffic makes it safer for everyone.

See our Why Walk for iWalk blog for fun images to help get children walking and keep promoting active travel alongside road safety.

Be Bright Activity Ideas

Now for the fun bit. Here are some great ways you can help your pupils to be bright. Some are free and some cost a bit… but there’s tips on funding too.

1. Bright Designs

Here pupils create and display their own bright design with fluorescent and reflective elements.

You will need: A4 black paper, white paper, scissors, glue, neon paper in a mix of colours, highlighter pens and reflective materials (you can cut up some old hi vis jackets for this to keep costs down).

After learning about ‘fluorescent for day, reflective for night’ pupils can create their own bright design to show they understand about being safe and seen.

  • Pupils start by researching some ideas for fluorescent, reflective products, eg look at the products section on the Brightkidz website.
  • They can think about who they want to design a product for and what their user’s particular needs are – for example children, cyclists, runners or older people.
  • This will hopefully inspire them to come up with their own ideas.
  • Using the resources listed they prepare a design, cut out and glue the neon paper and reflective materials to the white paper.
  • Then cut round the design and display against the black paper – which makes it really stand out.
  • Finally put all the designs on a large display board with some ‘fluorescent for day, reflective for night’ titles and let everyone see their bright ideas.

Designs shown were created by pupils from Park Road Infant School, Kettering (many years ago!).

2. Twilight Trails

Road safety officers from Thurrock Council have been working with the borough’s primary schools to make sure young children – and their parents – know the importance of being seen.

  • Twilight Trails is a scheme that aims to teach children the importance of wearing fluorescent, reflective clothing at night in a fun and interactive way.
  • Year 3 pupils and their parents on the Trail wear fluorescent, reflective waistcoats to make them visible. They search for lots of hidden reflective items which are hidden in hedges, trees and the undergrowth.
  • The students had to count how many reflective items they could find using their torches.
  • Members of the team also explain how the torches cause the reflective material to shine in the same way a reflector would shine when caught in a vehicle’s headlight – helping drivers to see them on the road.
  • All the children who took part received a fluorescent road safety bag containing reflective stickers and key rings to help them reflect in the driver’s headlamps.

Holding a special event to take children out after dark is a great way for them to see how reflectors work – it’s too light during the school day. By starting at twilight they will also be able to see how the fluorescent colours on their vests show up really well in fading daylight. As the evening progresses and it gets dark they can see the hidden reflectors really well by torchlight.

This activity would also work well for a brownie, cub or youth group activity. Or link it in with celebrations for Divali, the festival of light.

Funding Tip: If your local authority can’t provide resources, ask a local business to sponsor you to provide bright bags and reflectors to give out to each child. See our information on Getting Sponsorship from Businesses.

3. Brighten Your Bag Competition

Croydon Council road safety team came up with this bright idea. For the last three years they have held a borough-wide competition for primary schools. Pupils are asked to brighten up a bag of their own with fluorescent, reflective materials. We’ve been honoured to help judge their competition each year and the winners have received prizes including some from Brightkidz purchased by Croydon Council.

This activity was also used at a meeting of school travel professionals earlier this year (Modeshift NE in York). See our blog to find out how it went and get tips for running your own similar Brighten Your Bag activity or competition.

4. Bright Day

Hold a Bright Day when everyone pays a pound to come in dressed up in really bright colours or carrying something really bright, preferably fluorescent. You can use it to take raise money for Brake road safety charity or for your own road safety initiatives. Fill your day with bright-themed and road safety activities:

  • Use a teddy mascot in a high vis waistcoat for an assembly to show the difference between fluorescent (for day) and reflective (for night).
  • Ask them to also bring in anything they have which is reflective.
    • Do a ‘coat and bag check’ – see whose coats and bags have reflective trims.
    • You can test them using a dark cupboard and a torch.
    • Put the torch next to your head so it is near your eyes when you shine it forward onto the reflective materials – the light will bounce back off the reflector in the same direction it came from).
  • Look at the fluorescent items which have been brought in.
    • Take them outside with some dark coloured items as well.
    • Look at them from different distances and against different colour backgrounds.
    • Compare them and record which colours stand out best. Does the background make a difference?
  • See more ideas for learning about fluorescent and reflective materials.

5. Start a School Reflector Shop

Older pupils can set up a reflector shop for parents and children to buy reflectors and other things to make themselves bright.

Many schools across the UK use a Brightkidz Reflector Shop Starter Pack to help them get going. The income they take from sales can be ploughed back to get more reflectors to sell and the profit left over can be used for road safety competition prizes.

Running a stall like this is also a good way for pupils to learn business and marketing skills.

6. Bright Dressing-Up

This is one of the most popular activities at our workshops. Children of all ages love dressing up and trying out different looks with fluorescent, reflective waistcoats, bags and hats.

Gather a selection of items in different neon colours and/or with reflective materials which they can bring from home – eg sports wear, outdoor wear, work high vis jackets or fashion items borrowed from family members. Include some bright bags and accessories too (see our product range for ideas).

  • Start by talking about the difference between reflective (for night) and fluorescent (for day).
  • Then let them dress up and model their look.
  • Get some pupils or a teacher to take photos with and without a flash to see where the reflective parts are.
  • Use some of the photos for a Be Bright display board, on your school’s website or social media (with appropriate permissions).

7. Make a High Vis Tag

Pupils can create and then test their own high vis tags – to help them learn  ‘fluorescent for day, reflective for night’. The main requirement for this task is an old high vis waistcoat (one should be enough per 10 pupils) and some basic classroom equipment.

See our blog article about when we did this activity with a local school for Science Week and how to do it with your pupils too.

8. Bright Business for Secondary Schools

Most of our products and resource ideas are for primary school ages but we want older pupils to be safe too, especially as they are vulnerable too. We partnered with local police and the road safety team to work with one local secondary school on the following.

Pupils were challenged to design and present their business ideas for fluorescent, reflective products. This included a business plan with market research, costings, branding designs and their publicity materials.

Interested in learning more? Let us know as we have plans to develop this resource fully if there is enough interest.

We hope these ideas will inspire you for Road Safety Week, or any week!

Remember if you do any of these activities and your school is taking part in the Modeshift STARS school travel award scheme, you can register your activity with STARS to help you get accreditation.

First published November 2017, revised for freshness November 2023.