Lebanese students were stunned to discover that the majority of drivers ignore the basic rules. They decided to use several means to inform the people in their town and create a road safety culture.
To kick-start their analysis, students discussed the road safety situation in Lebanon and around the world, and conducted research to identify the major causes of road accidents. After sharing their findings on a blog, they met to discuss and decide upon one major line of inquiry. Based on their initial research, the team members came up with the hypothesis that human factors are central and often lead to terrible situations in Lebanon, and particularly in Saida city. Based on this hypothesis, they invited a police officer to lecture on these factors and supply them with accident statistics for Saida. They discovered that speed and ignorance of driving laws are the most crucial factors. In order to study the issue further, they created a survey and distributed it among 400 young people aged 18-25. They analyzed the data and discovered that 81% were unable to answer the questions correctly! Based on their findings, students concluded that drivers ignore the rules because they don’t take the time to study them or take them seriously when applying for a driver’s license. By closely observing behavior on the streets of their city, they also identified many unsafe and reckless practices: some people were holding babies while driving, some children paid little attention when getting off a bus, or out of a car. They also witnessed illegal behavior, such as talking on cell phones while driving, failure to fasten seatbelts, or children sitting in the front seat of a vehicle. The analysis undertaken by students convinced them of the importance of human error and lack of road safety knowledge in their city. They decided to design initiatives that focused on tackling some of these critical issues.
In their own words, the initiatives the students designed “focus on the importance of becoming aware of the driving law in order to enhance road safety in the community and improve the behaviors of reckless drivers.” To this end, they first made flyers with important road safety messages to be distributed among college and university students. They also created and distributed car stickers to the students featuring a logo and a slogan for the initiative so that the drivers would be reminded of the serious risks posed by any unsafe or illegal practice. The school students also decided to film a simulated accident and share it on social networks. In order to share road safety knowledge with their peers, they created a petition for the school administrator, requesting that she add road safety to the curriculum for all grades. She welcomed the idea and promised to discuss its feasibility with the board and curriculum designers. Students also worked proactively to organize and better direct the traffic outside their school. With the aim of reaching an even wider audience with their message, the students launched a weekly road safety SMS sending initiative. The text messages focused on raising awareness of driving rules in order to reduce the number of accidents. All these initiatives served to improve awareness amongst colleges and university students, school authorities, and the community about the crucial importance of road traffic laws and adopting safe and responsible behavior.