KT for good: We need to teach kids about road safety
Part 4 of our series speaks about the importance of making road safety curriculum mandatory for school students in the UAE.
Data of UAE governmental entities show that "when it came to preventable child deaths, road traffic accidents were revealed to be the main cause of fatal injuries among children between 2008 and 2015, comprising 64 per cent of all deaths".
In June 2018, UAE governmental entities published that almost half (46%) of accidents in Abu Dhabi were caused by youth. According to traffic reports, speeding and reckless driving were the major causes of accidents among youths.
Statistics show that young people represent the largest proportion of drivers and many of them lack road courtesy and fail to abide by the law. They fail to take road conditions into account in order to preserve their lives and that of other road users.
The conclusion we can derive is that the UAE has a serious problem with regards to road safety of our children and youth. We firmly believe that besides the role the families have to play in educating their children/youth about safe behaviour and in protecting them while driving them, UAE's education sector must rise to the challenge.
Like in many other countries with lower child/youth accident statistics, the UAE education sector needs to implement mandatory road safety curriculum for all ages/stages/years with a sense of urgency.
In the absence of the strategic long-term existence of mandatory road safety curriculums, various stakeholders like governmental entities (police, Roads and Transport Authority) and private entities (car brands, tyre brands, child car seat brands, platforms like RoadSafetyUAE, etc.), and the media, particularly Khaleej Times, are organising ad-hoc, short-lasting and tactical road safety awareness drives in schools and universities.
However, this approach is of limited reach, lacks uniform and homogenous content and is not of the desired long-term strategic effect. We firmly believe that only mandatory road safety curricula for all pupils of all ages can deliver the three vital outcomes:
> Protecting children 'now' (children must understand the basics of road safety in order to know how and why to behave safely in the car (wearing seatbelt etc.) and on the road (crossing the road, how to drive a bicycle safely etc.).
> Turning educated children into ambassadors of road safety as they have the power to share their knowledge with their parents ('Daddy, I learned that you should never use the mobile phone while driving'), their siblings and friends ('Little brother, you must always wear your seatbelt') and others in their surroundings.
> Nurturing the 'next generation' of responsible drivers - once the children of today will reach the driving age, they will do so with proper road safety habits already instilled into them for a long time.
Such road safety curriculum exists in other countries and the resident curriculum content experts can easily take it as a starting point. Local road safety experts and stakeholders can add local nuances in the content development process.
In order to go the first step, we are inviting interested stakeholders in the education system, like governmental decision-makers, governmental and private school and university operators, teacher platforms and other concerned stakeholders to come forward and to connect with us in order to meet and develop a road map of how to swiftly, comprehensively and competently create the framework and content for the UAE's mandatory road safety curriculum.
We would be thrilled - in the interest of the UAE's children - to see this implemented in 2019.