The Western Cape provincial transport department has launched a new campaign aimed at reducing child accidents and fatalities on the road.
In the Western Cape‚ pedestrians are the leading group of fatalities among road users‚ accounting for nearly half of the total road deaths recorded in the province. Children make up a big portion of these fatalities.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) road deaths are now the leading cause of premature deaths among young people aged 15 globally. This is a sobering reality for us all.
Children‚ particularly small children‚ continue to bear the brunt of irresponsible and reckless behaviour seen on our roads. Road traffic injury is the leading cause of death for children aged 5 – 14 in South Africa‚ and in the Western Cape‚ child pedestrians make up a large majority of the children killed.
The Walk This Way Project‚ launched on Monday in partnership with ChildSafe‚ a child accident prevention foundation‚ and global courier company FedEx‚ adds to the various initiatives as road safety partners to address this very serious problem. The project’s main objectives include:
*To increase the road safety knowledge of students who participate in the in-school education sessions;
*To increase the number of students crossing at crosswalks or dedicated safe pedestrian crossings;
*To encourage motorists to slow down around schooling areas;
*To decrease the number of road injuries and deaths around schools;
*To recruit and sign agreements with 10 community partners to implement the newly designed ‘Slow Down’ programme.
The project will initially be focussed on five selected schools situated in the Delft‚ Kraaifontein and Khayelitsha area‚ where statistics have shown that incidents occur regularly.
This project will be supported inside the classroom through curriculum based road safety education.
There is also weekly reading by pupils about traffic rules relevant to road users.
According to Statistics SA’s 2013 National Household Travel Survey‚ 50‚4% (845 000) of the Western Cape’s 1‚676 million population that attends an educational institution walk to and from those institutions‚ with the remainder being transported by either private or public transport.
All of them are‚ in one way or the other‚ vulnerable to serious injury or death at the hands of reckless and irresponsible motorists.
“As part of our Safely Home campaign‚ the provincial transport department has committed to addressing the serious threats to safety faced by children on the roads‚” said provincial transport minister Donald Grant.
During October‚ the month dedicated to child pedestrian safety‚ the province implemented various child road safety measures. These included:
The unveiling of child pedestrian safety posters at areas which are high accident spots for children;
Safely Home Road Safety Workshop focussing on child pedestrian safety;
The launch of the Child Pedestrian Fatalities Map;
Scholar Transport Operations;
Scholar Patrols focussed at educating children on how to be safe when crossing the road;
Radio campaigns took place on Radio Zibonele and Umhlobo Wenene.