Generally, when looking at the large masses of people in India, we notice little road safety awareness amongst people, so we wanted to target local people first in order to initiate a change in our system.
We live in a city where we see accidents occurring on the roads and streets almost every day. And what strikes us in our minds is that even after knowing all the road safety rules and the driving rules, people tend to ignore them and often give silly excuses for not following them, like not wearing a helmet because it’s too hot or small things like talking on the phone while driving. The irony of this all is that after not following these rules meant for their own safety and welfare, people still wish to live in a country like The United states of America or any other foreign country. What people in our city don’t understand is that to feel safe on the roads and to avoid injuries and accidents, we will have to come together and follow the rules. So, the three of us (Smriti Dhariwal, Khushi Arya and Himani Pachchigar) discussed the problems that we see every day around us. We talked to our teachers and figured out a few problems we could address and about making the public aware of them. The mind map of the problems that we figured out is in the presentation that we've added.
We started thinking about the activities we could do in order to achieve our aim. We talked to our project adviser, Mrs. Neha Bhatia. After talking to her, we came up with the following idea:
SUO (Surat Ultimate Open) is a Frisbee tournament held every year at our school where teams from all over India come to play. We decided to take this opportunity to start our project. The three of us along with a team of our friends came up with the idea of handling the transport department at the SUO. We looked at many things like transport routes from destination A to destination B and making sure that each and every player travelling in the buses were wearing a seatbelt. We did face a few difficulties in doing so:
We had to wake up at 5:00 a.m. in order to pick up the players on the buses and also to decide a transport route.
We requested that all the passengers put their seat belts on but, as we mentioned above, people in this city do not follow traffic rules seriously and so we had to ask them more than once and even order them in some cases to convince them to wear seat belts. It was difficult for us to make them understand why wearing a seatbelt was important for them.
We designed cards to distribute among the players on the buses. The cards had our slogan “Life is cool, Don’t be a dude, Or else it will be screwed”. We made the slogan a bit casual so that everyone would be attracted to it and could relate to it easily. However, we didn’t distribute them to the players as we thought that it would be a waste of time and money if they didn’t take it seriously. We figured out from their behaviour that they weren’t ready to take the safety rules seriously. Hence, we saved the cards for use later. We heard people talking about us and our initiative and even were shown appreciation from our teachers.
Through this initiative, we not only targeted our city but cities from all over India.
Our second initiative was preparing a street play which catered to most of the problems we came across while making the mind map, such as respecting the lanes, wearing helmets and seatbelts and responsible behaviour. We used the local language for street plays so that it could be understood by a larger audience and would be relatable for Indians. We even uploaded our street play on YouTube so that we could spread our message to everyone. The difficulty in making the street play was that we recorded it in bits and pieces and it was difficult editing the whole video and merging all the scenes since none of us is good with computers and editing.
Our third initiative was preparing a video on basic traffic rules in India. This was important as there are many rules that are not followed because people are not aware of them and even if they know the rules they tend to avoid them. We saw this when we asked a few people on the road why they weren’t wearing a helmet while driving two-wheelers and we got excuses such as, “We live nearby so we don’t need to wear a helmet to come this close” or “It’s okay not to wear a helmet as nothing happens”. This was when we realised that people are taking their lives very casually and risking them for some silly excuses. We prepared the video and uploaded it on YouTube as well so that we could make everyone across India aware of the traffic rules.
Our fourth initiative was to make use of the cards we made for SUO (Surat Ultimate Open). We chose an area with a traffic signal and went there on a Saturday to distribute cards. We went to one of the busiest areas of Surat in the afternoon and talked to many people whom we saw not following the safety rules. We talked to them and interviewed them as to why they were not following the rules. The common replies were “It was too hot, so I didn’t feel like wearing a helmet ”or“ I just had to go to the next street so I didn’t put my seatbelt on” or “I can’t find a helmet of my size.” We divided into pairs and got one of our friends to help us out so that we could talk to more people.
Our fifth initiative was to create posters and stick them all around our building and societies to serve the purpose of catering to a larger audience. The posters are in the evidence section.
We learnt a lot by talking with the people while distributing the cards. We discovered that it will take a lot of time to bring about change and we are happy to initiate that change. It was appreciated by many people including our friends, teachers and people outside the school. However, we still know that there is a lot of change needed in our society but a small start will help bring a change.