With its large expat population, Bahrain faces some unique traffic challenges in addition to those that are common around the world. The students from Al Hekma International School kept this in mind when they designed their initiative.
When it came time for high school students at Al Hekma International School in Bahrain to brainstorm on creating a road safety initiative that would make a difference in their community, they had a lot of different factors to consider. Along with all of the normal road safety issues, they also had to take into account a large number of expats who sometimes drive carelessly or even recklessly.
In addition to this, the students identified various other factors as main causes behind road accidents. Mobile phones were ranked as a leading factor, causing drivers to pay little or no attention. Speeding was also important in regards to both drivers and the authorities – the students found that neither takes the limits very seriously. And additional factors were ignoring traffic signs, driving too close to one another, and children misbehaving.
The students could see that there were many things to be improved before roads would become safer for drivers, passengers and pedestrians. They began to think strategically about how to design a campaign for the greatest effect, and decided that it all came down to reaching the people of the communities of Bahrain to raise awareness.
In this way, they could share messages about safe and responsible road behavior and also gain the support necessary to change traffic policies.
Before they started sharing their important messages the students conducted a lot of research to have hard-hitting facts and information, accompanied by practical, easy to follow advice. The gathered surprising information on seatbelts – for example, 70% of people in Bahrain never wear them!
They also discovered that you’re four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone while driving, and that reaction times for drivers using a phone are around 50% slower than those not using one. They looked into the statistics related to speed, and found that ‘the limits are there for a reason’ - in 2009, 4,187 people in Bahrain were killed or seriously injured in crashes where speed was a factor.
They researched the different conditions that can affect a person’s driving behavior, such as fatigue, emotional distress and intoxication, and were able to develop practical advice for each one.
Now, with all of the necessary information, the students were ready to develop their communication campaign and reach people all over Bahrain. They created educative presentations to share with students, resulting in many discussions between students and their teachers, and later between students and their parents and relatives.
They also made a video in which they went out onto the street to ask people about their thoughts on road safety in Bahrain, and published it on the internet where interested citizens could view it and teachers could use it as a resource.
Finally, they created an important road safety message to share with their classmates through billboards and screens around the school. The message was clear and simple, and made a big impact on all those who read it: “Life is short. Don’t rush it.”
All of these actions together resulted in a successful campaign that managed to reach and influence people throughout Bahrain. The community is very thankful to the students for the big effort to make roads safer for everyone!