‘To promote and advance road safety education in schools through presentation, literature and integrated programmes with the Ministry of Education', this is the first of the six strategic goals established by the Road Safety Unit of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing since its establishment in 1994. The Unit, under the invitation of the Programmes Coordination Division, visited the Greater Portmore community on Wednesday July 22, 2015 to educate children ages 6 to 12 years old on the basic principles of road safety.
The Road Safety unit was greeted by some 50 eager children under the supervision of teaching assistants and facilitators. As the unit organized themselves to commence their presentation, the children stared in anticipation dividing the attention once held by the current presenter.
The interactive presentation was led by the Education Information Officer of the Unit, Cameal Stewart who guided her presentation on road safety with four main points: Who road users are, the six-step method of crossing the road, how to walk when on the road and safety devices such as seatbelts and helmets needed when driving or riding. “Road safety begins with you. This means road safety is everybody’s business- pedestrians, motorists, passengers, pedal cyclists, motorcyclists and pillion passengers must all play their part in ensuring that Jamaica has a safe and orderly traffic environment,” charged Stewart as she delivered a very graphical and stimulating PowerPoint presentation.
The half hour long delivery had the children ready and willing to show their keen knowledge of road at every given chance-perhaps motivated by the giveaways. “Miss at a pedestrian crossing, you stop when the light is on green, get ready to cross when it is on yellow and cross when it is on red,” replied an enthusiastic little lad during the presentation. “ Before you cross the road you have to stop, look right, look left, look right again, wait for the car, bus or bicycle to stop then cross as quickly as possible,” responded another.
They were also quick to share their accounts of adults who failed to observe and obey many of the road rules and precautions. “I see adults who don’t use the overhead bridges all the time” explained one of the children. “Adults don’t always use the pedestrian crossing, they cross behind cars, at corners and sometimes parked vehicles or just dash across the road during heavy traffic”. Presenter, Cameal Stewart, agreed that adults sometimes wrongly disobey road rules but reminded the children that they are at a higher risk than adults are when on the road. “Kids remember that practicing road safety is to protect you from harm when on the road. As children, you are smaller in size, this makes you less visible on the road and thus more vulnerable to traffic injuries and fatalities”
The session ended on a high with the children vying to prove who the best dancer was. Four boys and four girls were selected to recite dance moves showing how to cross the road. As they moved along to the rhythm of the popular ‘TIA music video,’ they were reminded that these dance moves are not simply for fun and games but are cautious reminders when travelling on the road. The Road Safety Unit was graciously thanked by one of the summer workshop’s teaching assistants and encouraged to make future visits.