For the purpose of the LEARN! project, the following definition has been established:

Traffic safety and mobility education covers all measures that aim at positively influencing traffic behaviour patterns, with an emphasis on:

  • Gaining knowledge and understanding of traffic rules and situations;
  • Developing and improving skills through training and experience;
  • Strengthening and/or changing attitudes and intrinsic motivations towards risk awareness, personal safety and the safety of other road users to contribute towards a safety-minded culture;
  • Providing the tools necessary for a well-informed choice of transport mode.

Setting the Age Group

Before the definition is described in more detail, it is important to discuss the target age group for the LEARN! project, as addressing educational activities for all age categories would go beyond the scope of this project.

The project concerns educational activities for children and youngsters up to the age of 18 years old, with a focus on primary and secondary education (6 – 17 years old) as that is the target group of the vast majority of educational activities.

Road safety statistics would have justified looking at children and youngsters up to 25 years old, as young road users between 15 and 24 years old are overrepresented in death and serious injury statistics: while they represent 11% of the population, they account for 17% of road deaths. As many youngsters gain access to powered two-wheelers and passenger cars during this period, this would require the inclusion of driver and rider education in this project as well. While vital to the safe participation of young drivers and riders in traffic, given its specialised focus, driver and rider education is better addressed separately.

Even though the vast majority of educational activities are targeted at children and youngsters, it is nevertheless important for road safety education to be seen as a life-long learning process, encompassing all age groups from young children to the elderly. Each age group may face different challenges, yet all could benefit from gaining more knowledge, improving their skills and contributing towards a safety-minded culture.

Exploring the Definition

The aim of traffic safety and mobility education is to positively influence behaviour
patterns that result in safer traffic. Elementary to traffic safety and mobility education is
the transfer of knowledge and gaining an understanding of traffic rules and situations
as well as the development and improvement of skills needed to participate safely in
traffic through training and experience.

Traffic safety education also encompasses those measures that strengthen and/or
change one’s attitude as well as intrinsic motivation towards safe participation in traffic
with the aim of bringing about a safety-minded culture. Important in this regard is
self-insight and reflection on own and others’ attitudes, motivations and behaviours.

This safety-minded culture consists of two aspects: a personal and a social. The former
concerns the strengthening of attitudes and motivations regarding the individual’s
participation in traffic by enhancing their risk awareness and personal safety.
The social aspect concerns the strengthening of attitudes and motivations of the
individual’s interaction with other road users and the attention paid to their safety.

The creation of a culture of willingness is considered important, as road users share the
space on the road and road safety should therefore be seen as a shared responsibility.
In addition, this social aspect also encompasses interfering with the risk behaviour of
others, by commenting on it, saying no to it or by withdrawing from it.

Further to the political concern (by establishing political agendas) and the social control
(in terms of laws and regulations and their enforcement), a traffic safety culture is
strongly related to the knowledge and information that should be communicated to
road users by training and learning at cognitive and practical level.

Finally, traffic safety and mobility education also covers those measures that provide the
tools necessary to make an informed decision about which mode of transport to take.
Important in this regard is the promotion of active and sustainable transport modes.
Walking and cycling – the active modes of transport – should be encouraged, as cyclists
and pedestrians do not endanger other road users as car drivers do, due to their lower
speed and mass. In addition to health and quality of life benefits, promoting active
travel as an attractive alternative to motorised transport will furthermore decrease
traffic noise, pollution and congestion, notably in urban areas.

In order to encourage the use of active modes, it is important that the key principles
of safe walking and cycling are taught and that pedestrians and cyclists learn how to
handle possibly risky situations from a young age.

The use of public transport should furthermore also be encouraged, as the core public
transport modes (bus and rail) are the safest modes of land transport. Trips by public
transport, including walking or cycling to and from their access points, are collectively
safer than car trips and less polluting for the environment.

However, active modes may not always be the safest option available and it is therefore important that awareness is raised about the local context, so that a well-informed decision can be made by the road user on which mode of transport to take.