The facts are as compelling as they are alarming. Road traffic injury is the leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 19, and the second leading cause of death for those aged 5 to 14. In addition to death, tens of millions of children each year require hospital care for non-fatal injuries as a result of road crashes, many of whom are left with some form of disability, often with life-long consequences.
In Myanmar, the National Traffic Safety Committee reports an average of 11.6 people are killed in automobile crashes each day and the World Health Organization ranks Myanmar as the second-worst performing country in Southeast Asia for traffic related deaths.
To help address the burden of road traffic crashes, Toyota, the Myanmar Red Cross and the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) have teamed with local authorities to pilot a comprehensive child road safety programme using the position of the school, being the heart of the community, as the centre point.
The programme is based on the Safe to School – Safe to Home methodology which was developed by GRSP and has since been implemented in more than 15 countries worldwide. Based on global good practice, Safe to School – Safe to Home seeks to build on existing road safety efforts and expand beyond the classroom through a step by step approach to education and traffic control within the broader school community, engaging with the school faculty, children and parents, local government, enforcement agencies, local media and relevant ministries.
The programme addresses the six main issues facing children:
- Speed of vehicles around the school
- Children crossing roads
- Children walking along roads
- Children riding bicycles
- Parking and traffic around the school drop off and pick up areas
- Use of seat-belts and helmets
The programme is tailored to the local area and gathers data against a number of indicators including use of safe crossing areas, speed of vehicles and use of safety equipment such as seat-belts and helmets.
The programme held its official launch in Yangon on November 27 which was well attended by representatives from Toyota, Myanmar Red Cross Society, GRSP, government officials, media and of course, teachers and children who are the target beneficiaries of the pilot project.