Our school initiates permanent policy for education of young people in responsible behaviour on the road and culture of appropriate road traffic. This year our initiative is developed on the concept that is applied worldwide - Road Safety Audit.
Accidents occur because of non-observance of regulations and the best prevention is to re-educate all road users. Transport infrastructure plays the leading role. If it doesn’t comply with the traffic and the expectations of all participants, it forces drivers to break the law and as a result no one obeys it. Such a process will take a lot of time and effort involving our entire society. So with our road safety initiative we take the first steps in this direction. The initiative is developed on the concept that is applied consistently worldwide to detect problematic elements in the overall traffic situation, through a multidisciplinary approach and offer problem solving. This concept is called the Road Safety Audit.
Our team consists of 5 students from the 9th grade and a teacher. We found out about this concept on the Internet and tried to reach as many people as we could. We gathered 210 people for the last stage of our initiative, 180 of whom were young people.
The first stage of our initiative was the implementation of a road safety audit on a road network we consider risky. More specifically, the audit was conducted on 25 October 2013 at the intersection of Shipchenski Prohod Boulevard and Copernicus’ Street, Sofia. After the audit our team gathered to compare notes and observations. Tasks were:
1. To agree to what we have seen;
2. To determine where the main problems were;
3. And to discuss options for dealing with problems.
After our observations we agreed on what the main problems were and came up with some ideas to solve them. Then we wrote a report and shared our ideas on the internet. Promoting our ideas and our work, we say that what we do is important not only for us but also for the general public. We can also see how many people outside of our team support our work.
Our team observed for an hour the violations carried out by drivers and pedestrians. Out of 75 vehicles and 15 pedestrians observed during the audit:
57% did not keep the required distance;
76% changed lanes without indicating;
93% entered a restricted area or went in the wrong direction;
48% cut off another driver or pedestrian;
70% of parked vehicles were in a ’no parking’ zone;
40% of the pedestrians crossed on a red light;
20% of the pedestrians crossed on an unmarked location.
Observations and conclusions:
1. Road markings are not observed.
2. The two traffic lights for the cars and also for the pedestrians signal at the same time.
3. Cars cross to the left hand lane, breaking the laws of Bulgaria.
4. There are parked cars on the right lane which jam the traffic.
1. To ban left turns on Shipchenski Prohod Boulevard.
2. To ban parking in the first 100 metres after every crossing.
3. To reorganise traffic lights so that they allow conflict-free crossing of vehicles and pedestrians.
4. If left turns are banned, the lane on the tram rails can be opened.
5. To make the crosswalk on Shipchenski Prohod Boulevard and Lidice Street raised and clearly lit.
The second stage of our initiative was planning and implementing a meeting in our school with representatives of the local authorities (municipalities), the Ministry of Interior and civil society on the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. The meeting was held on 18 November 2013 and was attended by representatives of the Slatina Municipality, a Police Inspector, the headmistress and the deputies of the 138th Prof. Vasil Zlatarski School, teachers and students.
Students from grade 9 involved in the initiative presented first some information about the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims and then presented the results of the audit, observations and conclusions. A video was presented showing the observed violations and the infrastructure. All observations and recommendations were given to the representatives of Slatina Municipality in a written document. The police representative joined the discussion and presented some facts and statistics of the traffic situation in Bulgaria.
Quizzes were conducted first with students from grades 1–4, and then with the older students (grades 5–12), who attended the meeting. We also organised puzzle and drawing competitions.
We finished the meeting with the message ‘We will succeed together!’
Between November 2013 and April 2014 our team undertook different Road Safety Challenge initiative activities. The actions on regional level started by inviting state officials and finding public supporters to assist in organising and implementing the campaign. At this stage the following partners in the forthcoming campaign joined the initiative:
• The Open Youth, organisation which supported us from the very beginning. They provided simulators, ‘alcogoggles’ and different prizes for students;
• Fairytale about the road foundation;
• Famous Bulgarian actor Kalin Surmenov;
• Experts from Sofia Municipality;
• Media: Bulgarian National Radio, TV channel Kanal 3 and AUTO BUILD magazine.
The aims of the campaign (the third stage) were:
• To spread the results of the audit;
• To attract the attention of the public and in particular road users;
• To raise the profile of pending road infrastructure issues for the institutions;
• To train and educate the young in safe behaviour on the street;
• To transmit our message to all road users.
Our campaign event took place on 9 April 2014 on the playground of 138th Prof. Vasil Zlatarski School and included:
• Alcogoggles simulating different level of alcohol in the blood;
• Driving simulator in risky situations – a high-tech 3D platform designed to recreate the real driving experience in virtual reality;
• Specially developed scale that shows how heavy a person becomes during a crash at 50, 90 or 130 km/h;
• A puzzle showing the participant the inability to focus on two different activities at the same time;
• Interactive, educative drama on road safety with fairytale characters for 7–13-year--old pupils;
• Alcogoggles games and competitions with prizes for students;
• Poems, songs, posters and paintings on the topic of road safety;
• Presentation of the results of the audit and our message;