This action entitled ‘From home to school’ is an interesting and age-friendly way to give children a basic knowledge of independent and safe behaviour in traffic.
According to some forecasts, by the year 2030 traffic accidents will become the fifth leading cause of death in the world. About 90% of all casualties in road traffic, on a global level, occur in low- and middle-income countries of the world, such as the Republic of Serbia. The largest number of victims are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. In the last few years, the government of the Republic of Serbia has been more actively involved in the management of traffic safety through laws and institutions. Actions are taken to improve knowledge, awareness and behaviour of all road users. It is very important that the state does not remain alone in these efforts.
When it comes to traffic safety students and teachers of the Radoje Ljubičić Technical School are aware of their responsibility in the local community. Educating students to be traffic safety technicians, and other professions in traffic, our institution directly affects the quality of future employees in this area. In addition, through various campaigns and activities undertaken within the school ‘Club for road safety’, we want to improve traffic safety in our city.
Traffic awareness, behaviour and basic knowledge are acquired primarily through the state education system (pre-school, primary and secondary education) and then through a system of driver training. On a non-institutional level, family and society upbringing is also very important for someone’s development as a safe road user. Knowing the importance of a responsible upbringing, we decided to target pre-school children (3–6 years old) and their parents for our project.
Children are the most vulnerable members of any society. Their vulnerability in traffic is a result of their lack of experience, knowledge and underdeveloped physique. Capabilities that are, for example, important for the safe crossing of the street such as vision, observation of dangerous locations and processing important information are not sufficiently developed until the age of 10. Children do not have the same ability to judge distances, speed, and noise direction of traffic and vehicles as teens and adults. They hesitate before they decide to step onto the road, so the traffic situation may have changed compared to the moment when the child decided to cross the street. Children’s behaviour and movement is unpredictable and this drastically reduces their traffic safety.
According to official state statistics, more than 300 children were killed and more than 17,000 injured in traffic accidents during the last ten years, mostly on the city streets. Time distribution shows slightly fewer casualties in the winter, while in the rest of the year the number of accidents is fairly even. Hourly distribution shows that most of these accidents happen in the morning (when they are going to school), at noon (when they are coming back from school) and in the evening, at nightfall. In most cases children are injured as passengers (45%) or pedestrians (40%). The consequences of children suffering for a society are incalculable, especially in social, but also in economic terms.
According to figures supplied by the Department of Traffic Police, the Police Department Užice for areas of the city of Uzice and its surroundings, there were a total of 46 accidents which involved children under the age of 14 in 2013. In these accidents, 48 children were injured (three with serious injures), and 20 of them were pedestrians. Children, as well as cyclists and pedestrians directly caused 14 accidents. In school zones, there had been three accidents.
Specifics of the city of Užice is a bad street network with narrow streets and small areas for pedestrians (sidewalks), which are often occupied with parked cars. Traffic is intense in some peak periods, which coincide with the time of departure of the children to school and their coming back from school. Pavement markings are not clearly visible in all places. On their way from home to school, children are forced to bypass parked vehicles, enter the carriageway and cross the street in places that are not well marked. All this is a real threat and challenge for children that are pedestrians.
This action entitled ‘From home to school’ is an interesting and age-friendly way to give children a basic knowledge of independent and safe behaviour in traffic. It gives parents certain instructions and reminds them of their obligation to teach children how to proceed in traffic. This action has few sub actions.
Together with the school Drama Club we designed a play for children. Three students, members of the school Drama Club and Club for Road Safety play the characters of police officer Mickey, a schoolboy and a schoolgirl. In an interactive way of working with children they check children’s previously acquired knowledge about traffic and teach them new ways of acting in traffic. During the performance, in the background children watch a PowerPoint presentation that illustrates the story. Also a short animated film about the same subject is shown to them.
After the play our students give children their so-called ‘Pedestrian License’. It is a booklet that children will carry with them, and it has the basic instructions of safe traffic behaviour. There is also a blank space where children, together with their parents, can draw a path from home to school, mark dangerous spots and learn how to overcome them safely. This ‘document’ should create awareness in children of their responsibility in traffic, a sense of independence and a feeling that they are entering an adult’s world.
In the end, children were given educational material which they are supposed to give to parents who should read it to their children. All of this will be the cause for further discussion of children with their parents on the topic of traffic and hopefully a responsible approach to childhood education.
We hope that this action will show its effects in both the short and long term. In the short term children will increase their knowledge about traffic and it will result in their safer traffic behaviour, reduce the number of dangerous situations and traffic accidents, and consequently a lower number of casualties. In the longer term we want to create a good foundation for their further maturation and that they will become responsible and safe participants in traffic.
Students, members of the Club for Road Safety, worked on the design of this action and on the creation of promotional materials under the constant supervision of teachers Aleksandar Arsić and Aleksandar Mitrašinović. Students were divided into three groups. The group responsible for the performance of the play was: Aleksandra Jezdić (17), Jovan Kostić (16) and Marko Janjić (16). The largest group, group that collected data and designed the content of the promotional materials was: Sara Borović (16), Nikola Dabović (16), Milica Djurić (16), Ivana Lazić (16), Bojana Selaković (16), Jovana Mitrović (16), Milica Kondić (16), Mira Žunić (17), Aleksandar Milovanović (17), Natalija Janković (17), Savo Radojičić (17), Irena Savićević (17), Radina Milić (17) and Bojana Stamatović (17). The third group of students was responsible for making presentations and promotional brochures, shooting and editing of the video. Its members were: Mirko Gačić (16), Nemanja Cvetković (16), Nikola Zarić (17), Vladimir Ivanović (17) and Nemanja Bajčetić (17).