Data from UAE governmental entities shows, that “…When it came to preventable child deaths, road traffic accidents were revealed to be the main cause of fatal injuries among children between 2008 and 2015, comprising 64 per cent of all deaths…”1)
In June 2018 UAE governmental entities published: “…Almost half (46%) of accidents in Abu Dhabi caused by youth. According to traffic reports, speeding and reckless driving were the major causes of accidents among many youths. Statistics show that young people represent the largest proportion of drivers and many of them lack road courtesy and fail to abide by the law or to take road conditions into account in order to preserve their lives and the lives of other road users…” 2)
The conclusion is that the UAE has a serious problem with regards to road safety of our children and youth. We firmly believe, that besides the role the families have to play in educating their children/youth about safe behaviour and in protecting them while driving them, UAE’s education sector must rise to the challenge! Like in many other countries with lower child/youth accident statistics, the UAE education sector needs to implement mandatory road safety curriculum for all ages/stages/years with a sense of urgency.
To date and in the absence of the strategic long-term existence of mandatory road safety curriculums, various stakeholders like governmental entities (police, RTA, DOT, etc.) and private entities (car brands, tire brands, child car seat brands, platforms like RoadSafetyUAE, etc.) are organising ad-hoc, short-lasting and tactical road safety awareness drives in schools and universities. However, this approach is of limited reach, lacks uniformity and homogenous content and is not of the desired strategic long-term effect. We firmly believe, that only mandatory road safety curricula for all pupils of all ages can deliver the 3 vital outcomes:
- Protecting children ‘now’ (children must understand the basics of road safety in order to know how and why to behave safely in the car (seat belts, etc.) and on the road (crossing the road, how to ride a bicycle safely, etc.).
- Turning educated children into ambassadors for road safety, as they have the power to share their knowledge with their parents (‘Daddy, I learned that you should never use the mobile phone while driving!’), their sibling and friends (‘Little brother, you must always wear your seat belt!’) and others in their surroundings.
- Nurturing the ‘next generation’ of responsible drivers: once the children of today will reach the age of becoming drivers, they will do so with the proper road safety habits already instilled into them for a long time.
Such road safety curriculum exists in other countries and the resident curriculum content experts can easily take it as a starting point. Local road safety experts and stakeholders can add local nuances in the content development process. Once the curriculum content for the various years/stages has been developed and approved, it will be easy for UAE’s teachers to deliver it.
In order to go the first step, we are inviting interested stakeholders in the education system, like governmental decision-makers, government and private schools and university operators, teacher platforms and other concerned stakeholders to come forward and to connect with RoadSafetyUAE in order to meet and develop a road map of how to swiftly, comprehensively and competently create the framework and content for UAE’s mandatory road safety curriculum.
We would be thrilled – in the interest of the UAE’s children – to see this implemented in 2019!
All readers are welcome to share their views, to connect and to be a part of the initiative: Thomas@RoadSafetyUAE.com; http://www.roadsafetyuae.com/suggest/road-safety-proposal/
By: Thomas Edelmann