Students of all ages often indulge in risky behaviour on the road and endanger their safety. The Awareness Drive aims at sensitization of pupils to be safe through students volunteers and leaders of social change from Traffic Cell, Govt of India.
Student volunteers from the Road Safety Club, along with class monitors, conducted brainstorming sessions to identify the key areas threatening safety on the roads. The following reasons were identified: ignorance of road signs leading to violations of road safety norms, indifference to traffic rules such as underage driving, jaywalking, crisscrossing in-between traffic, speeding and not wearing a helmet or seat belt while driving. The third issue identified was drunken driving resulting in road rage.
Before arriving at any conclusion, the group took the initiative of making a video film of the students’ behavior on the road outside the school during arrival and departure. A student review committee arrived at the conclusion that the students’ behavior on the road is irresponsible. They must be sensitized towards possible threats which they are exposed to and the serious injuries they might suffer on account of violating the norms.
Students observed that at the time of departure, 3,000 students are on the road boarding school buses, private vans and public transport. During these times, self-discipline and self-restraint are lacking in the students. They do not cross the road at the zebra crossings; they crisscross between the traffic and ignore traffic lights while driving. Underage driving, driving and riding without a helmet and speeding were found to be common behaviors on the road. Moreover, younger age students were seen playing at the roadside while waiting for their school bus. Some students were also in the habit of purchasing from street and mobile vendors, thus occupying pedestrian pathways and exposing themselves to unhygienic and unhealthy food.
The most pertinent fact was that students were ignorant of road signs, traffic rules and road safety norms. To bring about change in their behavior, for their personal safety and sustainability, it became important that their own peer group should become the ambassadors of change. It is relevant because this student community of 4,200 students is an important part of the society and can become leaders of change in the society. This education is necessary, because very often students suffer minor or serious injuries which not only results in physical suffering, but emotional trauma as well. In addition, it adversely affects their studies.
Grooming responsible road users was imperative because personal safety is an important link in the safety of others. Risky behavior adversely impacts the safety of other road users. Student behavior on the road severely impacted the movement of traffic at Vikas Marg, the road outside the school. There is heavy vehicular traffic and both slow-moving and fast traffic on the road because Vikas Marg is the main road connecting East and Central Delhi. Any disciplinary measures or appointment of school staff to ensure disciplined movement on the road was proving to be futile.
TIMELINE OF ACTIVITIES FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF ACTION PLAN:
1) July to September 2014 - Teachers attend workshops conducted by the traffic cell, Government of India, to be trained as ‘Champions of Change’ to conduct an awareness drive in school. Volunteers from the Road Safety Club and newly appointed class monitors for the 2015- 2016 school year carry out a brainstorming session to identify reasons for the dangerous road safety of students and the public. Student leaders shoot a movie showing risk behaviors demonstrated by the students on the road outside the school.
2) October to December 2014 - Actors of prevention appointed by RoSES (Road Safety and Emergency Services) visit the school to be the messengers of the awareness drive. They conduct a workshop for primary, middle, secondary and senior secondary students to familiarize them with age appropriate learning about the road environment, road signs and traffic rules (for primary students, age 7 to 10 years). A knowledge session was organized for 11 to 15 year old students on the ‘Steer to Safety’ program, teaching the phrase ‘STOP, LOOK, LISTEN AND THINK’ for crossing the road. These representatives put on a ‘Muppet Show’ to make the learning experience fun-filled as well as educational. They advised student volunteers to share with their classmates the movie of students’ risky behavior on the road. The movie was uploaded on smart boards, and student volunteers visited one class after another to spread the message of personal safety. Posters and slogans were designed by students to support the street play that was put on in the nursery wing.
3) January to April 2015 - To commemorate Safety Week and to spread awareness among parents, a circular on road safety was issued during the third week of January. A road safety quiz was organized for the students of classes VI to X, in which 3,000 students showed up. On this occasion, in a bid to make road safety a national movement, Union Road Transport and Highway Ministry, Government of India, along with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), organized a national-wide film making contest in India. Students prepared a short documentary on wearing a seat belt and safe road habits, and submitted it to CBSE. Students also prepared working models on using cycles as a means of transport and their vision of future cities, and a proposal of using breath sensors in petrol stations to check for drunk driving. Agencies such as RoSES, IRTE (Institute of Road Transport Education), PVR Nest, NDTV, MICHELIN were involved. Students designed a painting on banning the use of mobile phones on roads for everyone’s safety. These initiatives were appreciated by RoSES. They have promised to conduct a workshop for drivers of the school on May 20th, 2015, as a continuation of the workshop conducted for drivers on January 30th, 2015. The school has been selected as partners for the Champions of Change Programme sponsored by RoSES, IRTE, PVR Nest, NDTV, and MICHELIN - official partners of the traffic cell.
Students move in a cue to maintain disciplined movement on the road; senior student volunteer have offered to step in to prevent unsafe mobility of students on the main road outside the school by checking to ensure that no violation of safety norms is taking place.