“On Which Side Do You Want to Be?” is a project developed by high school students from Joinville, Brazil. The main idea of this project is to promote awareness to our future drivers on how risk behaviors can affect the statistics of traffic accidents
Joinville is located in the northeast of Santa Catarina State in Brazil; its human development index (0.809) ranks among the highest of the municipalities, occupying the 21st national position and the fourth in the State.
Several highway and railway lines cross the city, which have also contributed to making the city the 3rd largest industrial center in southern Brazil. Many of the most important economic groups in various sectors (such as General Motors, Whirlpool, Schulz S.A, Franklin Electric, Mercedes Benz and BMW) are placed here.
With growth and increased industrial development, the ancient "city of bicycles" is seen against a background of an increasing number of vehicles on the road. Leading the ranking for the state, today Joinville has more than 330,000 vehicles for a population of about 520,000 inhabitants.
The idea of developing the “On which side do you want to be?” project came from the students’ daily observation of behaviors by pedestrians and drivers on our city streets. Being that our school is located in one of the main streets of the downtown, the students were able to conclude that not only are the drivers to blame, but pedestrian behaviors can increase the possibility of them happening as well.
After choosing the topic of the project, the students came up with a new question to answer: “Whom are we aiming at with this project?” “Who should be our target audience?” They answered these questions by looking to their own school community and decided that as they – and their school friends – are already pedestrians and are about to be the next generation of drivers, they should be the ones aware of how good or bad behaviors can affect the city traffic.
First the students needed to decide which risk behaviors they wanted to work on for the project; for that, brainstorming sessions took place during the first classes, where students talked about the Renault contest. Divided in pairs, the students were encouraged to share some ideas with the rest of the group for the realization of the project (this time was called “information sharing”). At the end of this stage, the teacher exposed the students to different kinds of awareness actions already done and made available to the public in general.
The next step was based on collecting material to define what can be most considered a risk behavior in our community. For that, the students anonymously registered some real situations in the city of Joinville, taking photos or shooting amateur videos on our city streets. Using this material, it was possible to first identify the main areas that were influenced by risk behaviors: the use of seatbelts, mobile phones, pedestrian crosswalks, child car seats and respect for traffic signs.
Once the five points of the project were chosen, it was time to define the project name, slogan and logo. Now divided in groups, the students brought different ideas and creations using their own drawings. The winning option “On which side do you want to be?” was based on the idea that a risk behavior is a choice and it is up to you to make either a good or a bad one.
The next stage of the project began with the creation of the awareness presentation. The students started to research the five risk factor areas chosen by the group. During three meetings, the students presented and shared information, once again divided in groups. The content of the small presentations was based on statistical data (taken from articles, public questionnaires and national database statistics): laws regulating the factors in question; traffic accidents reported in local, national and international news.
During the last stage of project development, the students organized the way the presentation would be. The presentation was made at the same time for all of the school students. The group decided that, as important as the matter is, it would be necessary at that moment for the whole school to stop and talk about road safety. And so it was; the group of 15 students divided themselves up, entered the 7 different classes of the school, and presented all the information at the same time.
As a result, while putting the project into practice, all students felt the need to take the information beyond the school walls. Together they decided to make a common awareness action on the streets around the school, the same streets that served as the basis and inspiration for start the project from the beginning.
The receptivity of the project was surprisingly good. Teachers and students who attended the presentations liked the results demonstrated; many of them affirmed not really having known most of the information presented. An anonymous video of a taxi driver caused great interest and generated discussions on traffic safety. The approach on the city streets of talking to pedestrians and drivers was really positive; the statement of one particular pedestrian got the attention of the project group when he congratulated the initiative and affirmed that in 70 years driving, he has never registered a violation on his driver's license.
Participating in the project gave us the possibility to conclude that knowledge generates knowledge; that the discovery of new information can lead to the need of disseminating the knowledge gained by multiplying informal awareness actions. As a continuation of the project, the students intend to extend the initiative, planning monthly internal disclosures at school using posters, and also repeating the external action every two months (approaching pedestrians and drivers on the city streets).
With the information received, it is possible to have two different reactions: you can pass the information on to others, or you can act like this has nothing to do with you. So, on which side do you want to be?