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Sunday August 25, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday August 26, 2013 MYT 1:26:25 PM
KEEPING children safe on the roads should be a priority as they are vulnerable and unable to protect themselves.
Transport Ministry Road Safety Department director-general Datuk Dr Tam Weng Wah said keeping children safe on the roads is a collective effort.
“It is important to equip children with the necessary tools so they are more aware of the dangers and safety measures when they are on the road,” he said.
Seeing children playing by the side of the road without adult supervision is a common sight in Malaysia. These children are oblivious to the dangers that they are exposing themselves to.
“There is a significant number of accidents that happen around schools and we can assume that these areas are frequented by children and students,” said Dr Tam.
“The World Health Organi-sation reports that 30% of those killed and injured in road traffic crashes are children and youths,” said Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) Road User Behavioural Change Research Centre director Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Faudzi Mohd Yusof.
He said statistics by Miros revealed 1,144 children from between the ages of four to six were involved in road crashes in Malaysia. The consequences of a road crash are devastating and when there are children involved, it is even worse.
The Road Safety Department continuously carries out initiatives and programmes to promote road safety among schoolchildren.
However, Dr Tam emphasised that without reinforcement from parents, the community and the corporate world, it will be hard to keep road fatalities low.
“I feel very upset when I see children not wearing seat belts in the car or a helmet when riding on a motorbike.
“These little efforts go a long way in keeping children safe on the road. Children are unpredictable; you never know when they will just dash across the road,” he added.
Road safety is a mindset and should be implemented into a daily routine.
Dr Tam said that if road safety is ignored, more people will be vulnerable to road accidents.
“We can only be a developed nation when there’s a reduction in unnecessary deaths in the country and road fatalities are unnecessary because it can be prevented,” he said.
Dr Tam felt that it was important for the community to participate in keeping children safe on the roads.
“I was very happy with UMW Toyota Motor when they carried out the traffic warden programme a few years ago. Now, I am impressed with their dedication to road safety and in keeping children safe on the roads.”
The Toyota Traffic Tots programme from UMW Toyota Motor introduces road safety to preschool children where they are taught about various dangers on the road.
They learn to recognise different types of vehicles and the dangers they pose as they move in different speeds.
The children also identify road signs and learn that it is important to obey these signs because it helps keep us safe on the road. They are introduced to basic traffic rules and taught the functions of traffic lights on the road.
“Sometimes, we have a role reversal, where parents learn from children.
“When you have children coming home and telling their parents they must follow road rules, parents actually listen because they don’t want to be embarrassed in front of their children. They also don’t want to risk the lives of their children,” said Dr Tam.
Dr Mohd Faudzi agreed that parents also learn from their children.
“It is known as the spill-over effect. Research suggests that road safety education not only educates students but also helps improve parents’ road safety values,” he said.
The programme also touches on pedestrian safety where children are taught the five steps of crossing, identifying safe places to cross and making sure that they hold onto an adult’s hand when they cross the road.
“A child pedestrian tends to cross the road without looking for oncoming traffic. Research indicates that these crossing behaviours are deemed ‘unsafe’ and are found to be exhibited by children and adolescent road users,” said Dr Mohd Faudzi.
Using the alphabet system that preschool children learn as an example, UMW Toyota Motor president Datuk Ismet Suki said they were teaching the ABCs of road safety and that it stood for “Always Be Careful”.
The Toyota Traffic Tots programme started off as a pilot programme in 10 Smart Reader Kids centres last year. Due to its success, the programme is now being carried out in 290 Smart Reader Kids Centres nationwide.
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