Durban Girls' High School is situated in Durban, in a busy urban area. We, the Representative Council of Learners Executive Committee, value the safety of all 1,200 learners at our school; this project is aimed at helping them and others stay safe.
Durban Girls’ High School has always been road-safety aware and actively involved in ensuring the safety of our learners on the road. However, recently with the rising number of road-related casualties and fatalities among school children, including some very close to home, we realised that we were facing a problem. Even within our school, we have learners who still forget the lessons they learned when they were younger and cross the street without looking right, left and right again. Having throughout the years promoted the importance of following road rules and practising safe road habits within our school society, The Representative Council of Learners Executive Committee recognised the value of all learner-pedestrians on the road being more road safety aware. We began brainstorming. To ensure that we were targeting the most problematic and relevant road-related issues within our area, we created a survey for feedback from primary and high schools. The survey entailed questions that would help us determine, firstly, if we were tackling issues prevalent to learners on the road and secondly, the seriousness of these issues. We sent the surveys to a number of schools, eager for replies. They were sent out to six primary schools and to six high schools. Four of the primary schools responded, giving us some valuable insight. Unfortunately, of the six high schools surveyed, only one responded - which made us realise how important is the need for more focus to be placed on road safety awareness for high school learners. We spoke to many of our peers and learners at the school, as well as conducting research into general statistics regarding road safety, using the Arrive Alive website. We discovered the following information:
The most common contributing factors to pedestrian fatalities in South Africa include:
- Reckless drivers. This includes drivers who are intoxicated and impaired with alcohol or drugs.
- Pedestrians ignoring or disobeying traffic light signals.
- Pedestrians walking on the road instead of the pavement, often on the left side of the road where they cannot see approaching traffic.
- Motorists driving at very high speed.
Armed with this information, as well as our own knowledge gathered from our experiences doing traffic duty outside our school in the mornings and afternoons, we set to work, keen to get the project up and running.
With our determination to make a worthwhile impact, we were flooded with ideas. Finally, we decided to create three infomercial videos, aimed at separate age groups, (one aimed at juniors and the other two at older learners). We planned to post these videos on social media and also send them to neighbouring schools. We hoped that they would serve as reminders of long-forgotten tips and road-rules and would draw learners' attention to the matter at hand. We also decided that we wanted to speak to the drivers, acknowledging that responsibility for road safety is a two-way street! We decided to submit an open letter to a local newspaper, urging drivers to be cautious and mindful of the problems that we, as pedestrians, face.
Duties were delegated as we began planning for shooting our videos and writing the letter. First, our entire team was divided into three groups respective to the videos, discussing and deciding upon the plotline and scripts. It was then agreed that certain members would partake in the shooting of our videos whilst others would undertake the task of editing them, in order to create our final products. Another group worked on expressing our plea for consideration through the open letter; aimed at drivers, we intended to create an understanding of the serious issues faced by learners and all pedestrians in a manner that would pioneer change. Dates were set and our ‘taking action’ began.
The open letter targets issues that arise from a lack of caution and consideration by drivers. It does this by creating awareness of the consequences of drivers not upholding their side of the promise to abide the rules of the road, a promise that we, as pedestrians, were currently working on upholding. With further research and discussion on what key points we wanted to highlight to drivers, the open letter was finished and our team had it sent to the newspaper for publication. We were incredibly proud to see our carefully selected words in print! At the time of writing this, we are also waiting to see if the letter will be picked up and published in one of our provincial newspapers, which will ensure our message gets out to the whole of Kwa-Zulu Natal, not just Durban and the surrounding area!
Our mini movies focus on road rule reminders as well as how to conduct yourself when walking home and encountering strangers. According to the data received from our survey and discussions we had with our peers, these areas were of the greatest concern for learners. Once the videos were shot, the editing phase began. We cut, added, rearranged, merged and edited until we felt we were ready to showcase our mini movies. They were posted on YouTube, on our school Facebook page and emailed to local primary schools. We will also be presenting them to our school in our assemblies next week to remind everyone of how important it is to stay safe on the roads. The open letter was also posted on our school's Instagram page and on Facebook to remind our learners that they too have responsibilities when it comes to road safety as well as the drivers out there - in short, we wanted everyone to know that we are road safety aware, and we can help you to be too!