If you have ever been on the scene of a crash where kids are killed, the experience never leaves you. Those little broken bodies stay in your mind forever. As for the families, they are left with a gap in their lives that can never be filled. It is thus that the Volvo Trucks ‘Stop Look Wave’ road safety initiative aimed at children is one which should be applauded by all.
Released at the end of May 2023, the Road Traffic Management Corporation’s (RTMC) report – State of Road Safety in South Africa (January 2022 to December 2022) – notes that 12 436 people died on South African roads last year. This positions South Africa as a country with one of the highest per capita road deaths in the world.
Of these fatalities, 5 347 (or 43%) were pedestrians – among them many children – and it is because of this that Volvo Trucks South Africa has made it its mission to educate young people about road safety through its ‘Stop Look Wave’ project.
“Safety is part of our DNA, and we are determined to educate, inform and enable children to stay safe and thrive,” says Waldemar Christensen, managing director of Volvo Trucks South Africa. “Stop Look Wave is a simple, fun way to teach children to stay safe on the road and we believe it can assist – if not reduce – the number of road fatalities, of which 43% are reported to be pedestrians.”
During Transport Month in October 2023, Volvo Trucks reached 10 776 school children in Mpumalanga, Northwest, Free State and Gauteng through its various ‘Stop Look Wave’ activations.
The on-going project, now in its 8th year in South Africa, is aimed at schoolchildren worldwide to instil the importance of safe behaviour, as well as heighten awareness of trucks, buses, and other vehicles in traffic.
The interactive activations facilitate conversations with the participating children, and the message is brought home through various song and dance activities. Discussion and practical demonstrations also include information on the size of trucks and buses, their uses, when and how they operate, as well as the need for pedestrians especially to be as visible as possible to truck drivers and other road users.
“Part of the message to the children includes the fact that even though we can see a truck, we cannot be sure that the truck driver sees us due to the vehicle’s height and size,” explains Christensen. “They are taught to stop, look and if possible, wave at the driver to get his or her attention before crossing a road, even if it is at a pedestrian crossing.”
Using advances in technology, Volvo Trucks create smart safety systems that are designed to monitor the truck’s behaviour and surrounding traffic to predict safety hazards and intervene to prevent accidents from happening. The systems may be out of sight but they are engineered to activate and support the driver in various traffic situations and in the process, make the trucks as safe as possible for the driver and all other road users.
“The ‘Stop Look Wave’ programme is an extension of our vision to provide safer transport solutions that form part of a society’s sustainable development,” says Christensen.
In an attempt to change the sorry state of road crashes around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) annually arranges the UN Global Road Safety Week – inviting individuals and organisations to contribute towards the UN’s target to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries by 50% before 2030.
The ‘Stop Look Wave’ programme is a global initiative and this year, Volvo Trucks´ contribution included the introduction of a new song and a music video that encourages children all over the world how to best behave in traffic and to ultimately keep them safe on the roads.
Children from all around the world are featured in the video, including from South Africa, showing how to do a set of simple, easy-to-perform dance moves that are intended to make the message more engaging and appealing to young people, and to help spread the message. Have a look at the video here. It’s kewl hey.
* Released at the end of May 2023, the Road Traffic Management Corporation’s (RTMC) State of Road Safety in South Africa (January 2022 to December 2022) notes that 12 436 people died on South African roads last year. Of these fatalities, 5 347 (or 43%) were pedestrians.