As a strategy to solve the problem of vehicular congestion around our school, students have created a campaign which promotes ‘The Carpool’.
Our school has serious transit problems related to narrow access roads and limited parking space, which need to accommodate 790 vehicles daily. This causes parents and students to spend an average of 30 minutes at the beginning and end of the school day to traverse the 277 meters between the entrance to the campus and the drop-off point.
As you can see on page 6 of our PowerPoint, our school is located on Carretera la Unión in the El Hatillo municipality of Caracas, an area characterised by a narrow, two-lane access (traffic moving in both directions) frequented by freight trucks and public transport (buses). Furthermore, when the school runs activities or receives visitors, traffic congestion is exacerbated. This is a big problem because sometimes it is impossible to enter or leave the institution.
This problem has an immediate effect on the students, as there is a delay at the girls’ entrance; as a result, some of them arrive at 7:45 when the school day begins at 7:20. A simple survey among students determined that 60% of vehicles entering the campus come from the immediate urbanised area and 2 other nearby residential areas. It also surprised us that the majority of vehicles only carried a single student.
The students held a brainstorming session where they considered these results. They identified a need to raise awareness among the student population, parents, other school visitors and community residents about the need to respect traffic signals, use seatbelts and not use their mobile phones when driving. They also created ‘The Carpool’ campaign, which they would promote as a strategy to solve the current problem that the school has with traffic congestion.
A group of students was designated to survey which district of Caracas the majority of vehicles were coming from: La Unión or La Lagunita. However, this could not be performed as there are ongoing road repairs, closing the road from La Unión and meaning that there is only one school access road at present.
These repairs have also prevented local authorities from implementing a pilot plan that limits the access of heavy goods vehicles at the beginning and end of the school day. This would help to leave the narrow road clearer so that cars can circulate more freely as they enter or leave the campus.
Families were classified according to where they live. Project representatives then organised them into groups and began a campaign to promote the use of carpooling; that is to say, one representative could travel with others students and decrease transit. The students also implemented a campaign to raise awareness about the need to respect traffic signals, fasten seatbelts and not to use a mobile phone while driving.