Why Traffic Safety and Mobility Education is Important
In order to achieve Vision Zero in road safety, the EU and its Member States need to implement an integrated approach to road safety. Education is considered an essential part of this integrated approach, alongside measures focusing on, inter alia, vehicle safety, infrastructure safety, enforcement and awareness-raising.
If good habits are established when children are still small, it is likely that they will grow up to become responsible road users. Road safety education therefore helps in laying the groundwork for the realisation of Vision Zero. It furthermore prepares young people to navigate the streets safely when they are young adults, the high-risk age group between 18 and 30 years old.
Over 25,000 people lost their lives on European roads in 2018. And while the road safety of children and youngsters under the age of 18 has improved considerably in almost all European countries over the past decade, 1,154 children and youngsters were killed in the EU in 2017 alone. More than 19,500 have been killed over the last decade and many more sustained life-changing injuries.
Children and youngsters have a right to grow up in safety. Traffic safety should be an important and natural part of everyday life. After all, every person, including children and youngsters, is a road user every day: as a passenger, as a pedestrian, as a cyclist, or as a user of nascent modes of transport such as electric scooters.
Road safety involves everyone and should therefore be a shared responsibility. Adult road users have to be educated to understand the limitations of child behaviour in traffic and the responsibility for keeping children in traffic safe has to be directed towards adults. After all, young children have physical and cognitive limitations that make them more vulnerable in road traffic than adults.
Adults are also important role models. The choice of form of transport to the day-care centre and to school, work and leisure time activities affects the child’s mobility education. Schools and kindergartens must also consider traffic safety and mobility as part of their health and safety work, their cooperation with parents, and the implementation of activities scheduled throughout the year.
Traffic safety and mobility education is important to the implementation of the Safe System approach, as it helps develop safe road users. Human behaviour is a key cause of collisions and education can teach safe behaviour and correct unsafe behaviour.
Traffic safety and mobility education is a life-long learning process. Each age group may face different challenges, yet all should benefit from gaining more knowledge, improving their skills and contributing towards a safety-minded culture. Education is therefore a broad approach that reaches everybody and should be seen as long-term work and long-term investment.
Road safety also interlinks with many other policies, such as mobility, sustainability, and health. Synergies between the topics allow for education on one topic to also cover the other related topics, and cooperation between the ministries of transport, education, health, and sustainability (as well as other relevant ministries, authorities and agencies) is therefore vital.
The European countries that are regarded as frontrunners in the provision of traffic safety and mobility education are also among the best performing European countries with regards to road safety, as they have the fewest deaths among children and youngsters.