The project sought a way for students to reflect, investigate and implement their own ideas and initiatives to improve road safety education in the school environment.
This project emerged from student concerns after observing unsafe road behavior; they believed the school environment should improve road safety. They began debating amongst themselves which path to take and the following ideas came up:
1. Safety and driver education.
2. The safety of our streets.
3. The future of our city and the school environment.
The first step was to conduct several sessions of observation, where annotations of road users' attitudes were taken from school community members (students, staff, parents, grandparents). A lot of dangerous and unsafe situations were observed such as: kids not using a suitable child restraint system; a lack of sidewalks in front of the school; drivers did not respect the pedestrian crosswalk.
Then the students conducted a questionnaire with all members of the school (students and staff) in which basic issues of road safety were asked: if seat belts were used, if a child restraint system was used, if parents parked their vehicles properly or parked on the pavement; the results revealed unsafe road attitudes by the students' families.
A session with the parents was held and students asked them about the unsafe road behaviors they had observed weeks earlier. Parents did not know what to answer when asked questions like "Why are vehicles parked on the sidewalk?" "Why do you allow your son/daughter to ride in the front seat?"
Having this information, we believed it would be important to share it with the local authorities, asking them to improve road safety. We requested:
A- A crosswalk at one of the school entrances: the Camiños Dos Coutos (The school has entrances from two different streets. One is Camiño Dos Coutos)
B- Bike lane to access one of the school entrances from Camiño Dos Coutos; also making this a one-way street.
B- The other entrance is on a path to access a motorway (N-532- Avenida Portugal) and we requested a speed limit of 30 km/h for the school area.
D- Promote and encourage the use of bicycles in the school environment.
Local authorities represented by the mayor of Verin committed to studying our proposals in the coming months, they showed enthusiasm for the bike lane and promotion of bike use.
Working groups were created and after debating they decided to implement actions.
After everything they observed, students thought the first action should be informative. They explained to all users of the center the observed behaviors and how they should act when entering and leaving the school in order to have a more positive road safety attitude: correct parking, use of security systems, respecting crosswalks.
The second action was to promote the use of bicycles among students. Therefore, several days were announced as days to go to school by bike using a helmet, and there was a bike ride through the town during school hours.
The third action was a workshop on traffic signs for students to get familiar with them and with their meanings.
The fourth action was creating a workshop to make stamps dedicated to road safety education, in which the students were very creative.
The fifth action was composing a song, entitled “Cohesion” and recording a video clip in which they gathered feelings and attitudes related to road safety, using their own methods.
The sixth action was a poetry workshop where feelings, values and friends were the basis of the student’s verses.
The seventh action was creating a blog to receive feedback from students, since social networks are much utilized and inspiring for youth.
All these actions, aimed at members of the school, were shared with the community through the support of the media, radio and the press. The positive impact of this campaign was that other schools have already requested support from local authorities to make improvements in their school environment, and they have also become interested in promoting a bike culture. Other positive impacts were that through their actions students could achieve a change of attitudes and behaviors, the vehicles are no longer seen parked on the sidewalks, many students have started riding a bike to school, and the local authorities have committed to making some changes to make the school environment safer. Students have realized their important role as active agents promoting road safety in their own community.