Around 60 children aged between 13 and 15 from the BAPS Children’s Forum in London participated in a road safety initiative called ‘RoadSense’. Sponsored by the Mercedes-Benz DrivingAcademy, the course took place at The Swaminarayan School in Neasden on Saturday 27 March 2013.
RoadSense is a new educational initiative that provides an opportunity for school children to learn about road safety from the perspective of drivers, passengers and pedestrians. The programme has been developed in direct response to the Department for Transport’s target to reduce the total number of road deaths and injuries amongst children and young people by at least 50 percent by 2020.
The course had both practical and theoretical components, with young children learning in a class before being put through their paces by driving a specially customised car around a controlled track together with professional driving coaches.
The practical session involved one child driving the car (alongside the instructor) with two others attempting to distract the young driver, thus recreating a typical scenario observed in everyday driving. This demonstrated the challenges of driving with distractions and hazards, and provided valuable lessons of the behaviour that should be adhered to when sitting in a car as a passenger. Each child was offered an opportunity to drive the car around the track as well as being involved in the role-play.
Members of the instruction team also led an interactive session where they explored the value of ‘responsibility’ using various media. This allowed the children to learn the importance of safety and responsibility not only as a driver but also as a passenger and pedestrian.
The experience fostered greater discipline and a deeper sense of responsibility amongst the participants, useful not only on the road but in all aspects of life.
One of the teenagers shared: “That was the first time I had done anything like that. I was quite nervous as I was driving a car at such a young age. However,the support from the instructor gave me the confidence to drive and it felt as if I have been driving for many years. When my friends distracted me, I found it difficult to drive and I now understand that I have a greater responsibility when I sit in the car as a passenger.”
Another girl expressed: “I never thought I would have driven before the age of 18 and to do it when I am 13 is quite an achievement. After taking part in the course I will definitely look to promote greater safety as a passenger. I did not realise that the passenger has just as much responsibility in the car as the driver.”