Automobile Association of Kenya (AA Kenya) has partnered with National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to design a Road Safety intervention for children dubbed ” Safe Walk to School” whose aim is to turn the future drivers into road safety champions.
According to NTSA 2016 half-year report, approximately 3000 people die annually with 40% of these being pedestrians. Globally more than 500 children die daily with more than 180,000 dying from road traffic crashes every year; this has warranted international attention, with countries committing to implement the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety which aims to stabilize and reduce the global road deaths by 2020.
Speaking at the event, Chief Guest Francis Meja, NTSA Director General said, “School children are the most vulnerable group of pedestrians who interact with the roads daily. They are also most affected by road accidents when their parents, guardians or caregivers are the victims. Through this programme we aim to empower the children by offering training to educate, promote and raise awareness on the importance of being safe and alert when using our roads.”
Children’s Road Safety research findings reveal children’s vulnerability on the road across several levels; they are small in size and therefore cannot be seen easily by motorists, their sense of vision and hearing is still developing therefore cannot judge speed or distance accurately; they also have a very limited attention span making it difficult for them to operate in the complex multi-vehicle road environments.
Ruth Njeri, Sales and Marketing Director, AA Kenya explained that children are also at risk when traveling in Kenya because Boda Bodas do not have a child sized helmet, while Matatus and car safety belts are not designed for the childs torso. “Even when walking to and from school, especially for those children who go back home for lunch, school going children are often in a hurry due to pressure to keep time, causing them to be distracted and at greater risk of an accident. This is compounded by the fact that in Kenya, school uniforms are often dull in colour; most are brown, green, dark blue; making it difficult for motorists to see the children,” she said.
The Kenya Police conducted the training for the children who were drawn from Nairobi Primary School, Kilimani Primary School and Kwa Njenga Primary School. The 150 children participating in the intervention received theoretical and practical road safety lessons delivered in a comprehensive and fun way throughout the session. The children also received learning material ranging from colouring books, to stickers for their geometrical set, and posters for their schools.
Nairobi Traffic Commandant Jacinta Muthoni was pleased with the training programme saying, “The Safe Walk to School Road Safety Training has been creatively designed to engage the children ensuring they have fun and interact with the Highway Code, Traffic Rules and Road Signs. Our aim is to help them become more aware of the potential dangers which often lead to untimely deaths.”
She added, “We are convinced that with concerted efforts to train our children on road safety, we will be able to increase their knowledge on the subject and foster positive attitudes and behavior during their formative years.”
The event kicked off with a walk from Jevanjee Gardens guided by the Nairobi Traffic Police over the University Way foot bridge and along the University Way Highway culminating at Nairobi Children’s Traffic Park, with a practical session on how to identify road signs, and use the road safely when riding bicycles.
In his remarks, AA Kenya’s President Jenaro Kibet said, “We appreciate that the road safety conversation requires collective responsibility because it cuts across all sectors; from political, social, economic and health sectors. For this reason, AA of Kenya is committed to making a meaningful and deliberate contribution to the realization of the UN Decade of Action’s objectives by supporting and driving road safety education for our children.”
Mr John Muchiri AA Director General concluded saying, “While we are pleased to be conducting this programme in partnership with NTSA, we appeal to other stakeholders in the sector to come on board for greater impact and sustainable solutions. We envision a larger scale initiative that replicates the Children’s Traffic Park across Kenya; growing the concept from the current six parks; and a National Curriculum that embraces Road Safety as an examinable subject so that the next generation of Kenyans grows up with better understanding of how to preserve our country’s’ most precious resource – human lives.”
The event attracted officials from Government and private sector, including Nairobi Traffic Commandant Jacinta Muthoni, Ministry of Transport,Matatu Owners Association, Boda Boda Association of Kenya, the Media,The Salvation Army Band, Head Teachers from the participating schools and Simba-Safe Kenya.