It is widely acknowledged by the global road safety fraternity that road safety education should begin in primary schools and it is thus that FleetWatch lifts its hats to Unitrans Supply Chain Solutions and TotalEnergies Marketing South Africa for having joined forces in launching a road safety education project aimed at primary school learners.
Each year, road traffic crashes around the world cause nearly 1.3 million preventable deaths and an estimated 50 million injuries making it the leading killer of children and young people worldwide. In South Africa, road safety education is pretty much lost on adults who seem to know it all and take that knowledge daily out onto the roads where they proceed to kill each other.
The number of truck crashes on South Africa’s roads has risen dramatically in the recent past and it is thus pertinent that Unitrans is getting involved in preparing for a safer future.
Receiving road safety education at a young age is globally recognised as one of the most effective ways of providing people with road safety knowledge. This education plays a vital role in shaping the attitude and behaviour of children, ensuring they become responsible passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and later in their lives, safer drivers.
“Road safety education develops knowledge, skills, attitudes and values – ultimately changing road behaviour,” says Carli Venter, Executive: Corporate Strategy and Marketing at Unitrans.
The project, aimed at promoting awareness of and educating learners about the importance of road safety, will be managed by the Road Safety Partnership SA (formerly known as GRSP SA), which will roll at four primary schools in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, from August to November this year.
“In partnership with the Michelin Foundation, VIA is part of the TotalEnergies Foundation’s commitment to strengthening its involvement in road safety issues around the world. The objective of this educational program is to strengthen young people’s knowledge in road safety and enable them to develop their thinking and adapt their behaviour to their own environment.
“We believe that many young learners in South Africa could really benefit from this programme, especially from a young age. That is why we have partnered with Unitrans on this important project,” says Mariam Kane-Garcia, managing director of TotalEnergies Marketing South Africa.
The VIA Programme is built on internationally recognised child road safety education best practices, drawing from the experience of road safety practitioners from several industries. The programme is modular, flexible, accessible and easy to integrate and implement in schools.
“Impacting knowledge, attitudes, and practice, the VIA learning materials include detailed manuals, factsheets, worksheets, games, videos and quizzes,” says Venter. “The programme takes an innovative approach to learning, focusing on the value of life and teaching safe behaviour in traffic through active, emotional, and creative methods. It is flexible enough to be tailored to suit the needs of education systems and young people everywhere.”
The first beneficiaries of the project are Grade 6 learners from Moriting Primary and Isiziba Primary in Tembisa, Michael Mkhwanazi Primary in Tsakane and Job Maseko Primary in KwaThema. Comprising four learning modules that are divided into teaching units, each with content filling about 50 minutes, the programme will be implemented in the schools in a minimum of six teaching units.
“Our goal is to reach 1 200 learners this year alone,” says Venter, adding that educator training started in June. “The headmasters of all four schools have been engaged, as well as the district representatives of the Department of Education.”
The project will recur annually, targeting Grade 6 learners. The joint funding provided goes towards the VIA Training Programme’s curriculum, learning materials, as well as the training of educators on the VIA Programme.
“It is vitally important to help shape children and young people’s understanding of and attitudes towards road safety, to help give them the best chance of keeping safe while they’re young and as they get older,” says Venter. “Through this project, we want to change the at-risk behaviours of young road users, ensuring they habitually display safe behaviour in skilled and active ways.”
Various stakeholders attended the official launch at Michael Mkhwanazi Primary, including executives from both sponsor companies, principals from the schools, learners from each school, representatives from GRSP SA and the Department of Education.