This project aims to raise awareness and to promote action among traffic participants, especially among pupils from our school. Through our activities we intended to teach them safety rules in order to avoid danger on the road to school.
The car is the most popular means of transportation on the road to our school. In our developing city the effects of travelling by car are significant. We appreciate cars for the better conditions, their performance, but we also have to pay attention to the fact that cars are increasing in number and according to the WHO, traffic accidents are the eighth leading cause of death globally.
Keeping this in mind we started our project by looking up information about traffic problems in our country and community. And we found really alarming information: Romania and Bulgaria were the EU Member States with the highest road fatality rates in 2018. We also realized that we personally knew a lot of people that had died in car accidents in our community. Therefore we began the discussion with the identification of a main issue on the road to our school. We started talking about nearby environment, infrastructures, means of transportation, safety of children and the importance of crossing the street safely. After observing the main problems we decided which strategies and resources we are going to use. The next steps of problem’s identification were based on empirical observation, which led us to the nature of the problem.
We created an online questionnaire with Google Docs consisting of a series of questions regarding road safety on Roman Ciorogariu street, the street where our school is located. Among the 120 interviewers, 58,3% were females and 41,7% males, we gathered information and concluded that the main issue is traffic congestion (between 7:30 and 8:00 am and 14:00 pm.). But what causes the traffic congestion and what are its effects? To answer this questions we also walked around the streets near our school and took photographs of different risky behaviours of traffic participants. After analysing these photos we could understand better the fact that the road on which our school is situated has only one lane, but drivers used it as if it had two. The authorities are aware of the situation and the main cause is the lack of parking places but until they intend to create spaces for the cars we had decided that an awareness campaign among vulnerable road users - pedestrians and cyclists - is necessary. Therefore our project focused on walking safely near the traffic and we entitled our it: The Road to School-Danger or Safety?
First of all we created a poster and a photo exhibition to share our knowledge and to raise our students’ awareness about issues and possible solutions to local road safety problems.
In order to spread information among our colleagues and teachers we created also some leaflets which contained best practices in road safety for pedestrians and cyclists. A campaign in the school was conducted within the entire educational community. We interviewed colleagues and teachers that were interested in our project and gave them leaflets. The interview questions were: Have you heard about our awareness campaign regarding road users? Is road safety education important to you? Why? Were you involved in at least one road accident? Which are the pedestrian risk behaviors on the road to our school?
We wanted to know the impact of our leaflets and a few days later we interviewed some persons again. The questions were: Have you read our leaflet? What do you think of the usefulness of the information? Did you pass on the leaflet to someone else?
Their answers showed us that many people were interested in road safety education and they found our leaflets useful. So we were really motivated to go on with our activities.
The next activity was with pupils in the 1st grade from our school. We began our road safety lesson with some questions and toys to introduce them to the topic. Then we had a powerpoint presentation: How to be a better pedestrian? Through a game they showed us that they knew the colours of a traffic light. The next phase was to draw and colour their own road sign. The pupils proved that they are good pedestrians and as a reward they received a symbolic „Pedestrian Licence” for Kids and candies. Bearing in mind that classroom teaching is more effective if combined with practical experiences we wanted that the 1st graders had the opportunity to learn more about traffic rules in the street. So, at the end of our activity we left the classroom and taught them that cars and other vehicles are not toys and they must cross the street safely. Together we helped them crossing the street on a zebra crossing. Our activity ended with dialogues, smiles and photographs, realizing that road safety is an essential part of our lives that deserves more attention because a huge number of accidents occur to children.
Our activities took place also online. Many of our ideas were discussed on a group on Messenger and we created a facebook page: Safe around the school, aiming to create a space on facebook where readers can exchange informed commentaries and creative ideas on the danger on the roads in our community. #Oradea. The page is also used to present our project to our „friends”.
To personify our page we created a logo that expresses our concepts in order to attract the target audience.Therefore the main purpose of the logo is to awaken the interest of the people regarding risk behaviours. Our logo contains the head and the brain of a person and our purpose is invite people to think about the interaction among different elements of traffic: Pedestrian, zebra crossing and a car. The head hides 2 symbolic meanings. On one hand, it’s representing the knowledge of road safety, on the other hand it can be seen as an advice for all traffic participants to avoid being lost in thought and always be alert and watch the traffic, which is also one of our slogans from the poster.
To learn more about our activities and strategies, visit us on facebook!
We also used the school group on facebook to spread information and we wrote an article about our activities for this project for the website of our school to be sure that our awareness campaign and materials could be seen by everybody interested in road safety education.
With all these actions we observed that not only the students, but also the parents themselves became more aware of the problem. For us all these activities represented a good opportunity to exchange ideas and build a successful work team with real benefits for all the people engaged in our campaign.