Road safety proponents have often called for the message of road safety to be introduced at an early age to school children. It thus comes as good news that Volvo Trucks South Africa has done just this with its Stop, Look, Wave road safety programme reaching some 7 589 learners across South Africa in the past three months.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the lives of approximately 1.3 million people are cut short annually because of road traffic crashes with crashes being the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged between five and 29 years. More than half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
Through Volvo’s own global traffic research analysis of real-life accidents, it became clear that most road accidents involve human behaviour and that children are the most vulnerable of all road traffic users. It was thus that in 2015, Volvo Trucks took a step towards trying to improve this distressing statistic and launched the Stop, Look, Wave campaign. Since then, tens of thousands of learners in both rural and urban schools across the country have participated in the programme.
FleetWatch first came across the programme on a trip to Sweden with Volvo back in 2017. On arrival at Gothenburg airport, we were greeted in the arrivals hall by a huge ‘Welcome to Gothenburg – the home of Volvo’ display that couldn’t fail to catch the eye. It was headed ‘Safety for Everyone’ featuring the Stop, Look Wave campaign.
I stopped in front of it. It was brilliant. An actual Volvo truck cab protruded from the display and there was a cardboard cut-out of a kid standing waving at the driver. After a few minutes, magic happened. A young kid stepped onto the platform, stood in the front of the truck and waved at the driver before moving off with his dad. The campaign had hit its mark. Soon after the launch of the campaign in Europe, it was introduced into South Africa.
“Over the years, Volvo Trucks has developed many pioneering safety features for its products to limit the impact of traffic accidents on people,” says Valentia Hobbs, Volvo Trucks South Africa’s marketing and corporate affairs director. “Stop, Look, Wave is specifically aimed at helping children understand how to best behave around trucks, buses and cars, and to ultimately keep them safe on the roads.”
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 road users to be as visible as possible to the truck drivers.
“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 Hobbs. “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.”
Utilising the advances in technology, Volvo Trucks creates smart safety systems that are designed to monitor the truck 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 and more efficient transport solutions that form part of a society’s sustainable development,” says Hobbs