Traffic congestion around schools is a common problem when there are several other schools in the vicinity. The cause is not just one. Schools adopt different strategies, like mapping of roads and initiatives to handle the problem of road congestion.
Ideas are developed when students think, discuss, collaborate and explore.
We discussed the issues related to traffic congestion and accidents around the school premises, also issues related to rash driving, people not following traffic rules, speaking on mobile phones and not wearing seat belts while driving.
These issues are of utmost importance as they cost the lives of dear and near ones. The topics related to road safety were discussed among the leaders of the road safety club and peer to peer interaction in classes. We created open discussions during recess where our peer groups suggested different strategies that can be adopted to solve issues related to road safety and, most importantly, to the road congestion around our school. The suggestions received during these interactions were noted down, followed by a detailed research on the school’s location and areas like parking lots available near school, total number of staff vehicles (cars, motorcycle and bicycles), school buses, an approximate number of parents dropping off and picking up their children, and private vans. We also researched on the internet, in newspapers, magazines and attended workshops conducted by PVR nest (road safety and emergency service). These resources enabled us to draft an action plan for the mapping of parking areas.
Considering the above problems, we developed an action plan to instill awareness among people. Along with road safety, responsible behavior is equally important to spread awareness.
Initiatives are formed when students work together. We took charge and adopted various strategies to solve problems and find better solutions.
We planned a number of activities such as a board display on road safety issues and solutions for students, poster-making on finding solutions to road accidents, a street play on issues of road safety, mentor workshops to sensitize young students to follow traffic rules and to spread awareness in school.
We planned a signature campaign at school during parent-teacher meetings, which is a link with the community (parents can spread the idea of responsible behavior). There are more than 5,000 students in our school. Parent-teacher meetings are conducted for Montessori students, primary students and senior students at different times, as per the calendar of the school. This was an opportunity for us to spread the message of road safety for all, especially to individuals serving as a link to the community. It also indicates that holding parent-teacher meetings on different days for different classes helps in reducing traffic congestion, which is usually apparent during parent-teacher meeting days outside many schools.
We prepared a planned road map which was given to parents for them to follow while picking up and dropping off their children at school. The mapping of parking areas was designed by us and road signs were put up near the school along with the following initiatives, as an act of responsible behavior and safety for all. Our school has three gates (Main gate 1, Main gate 2 and Auditorium gate). For parents, staff and private vans the parking area allotted is near the Auditorium gate; for school buses the parking area allotted is near Main gate 2 for easy and smooth moving of traffic in the morning and in the afternoon and to reduce congestion around school. These parking areas were incorporated on the map, along with the location where vehicles would be parked; message boards were put up at the parking areas to mark the parking zone.
Guards/The School Road Safety Team were appointed to keep track so that it would become a routine for everyone.
Carpooling and use of school vehicles was promoted to reduce congestion on the road by conducting workshops for teachers and students and spreading this message during school assembly.
School drivers were trained on a regular basis; workshops were conducted for them by us and by resource persons. The message of safe driving was promoted in the workshop conducted by us for school drivers.
Scooter driving was banned for commuting school students. If found the vehicles were confiscated and a fine was given.
Also, during peer to peer interactions, we noted that the road around our school is a circular one. Taking a U-turn creates a lot of chaos and confusion in the rush hours, leading to traffic jams and accidents. So signs were put up for buses, vans, parent and staff vehicles which warned “No U-Turns Allowed”.
Road sign stickers were put up on every step of the staircase at school so that each child could see them on a daily basis and would respond well to the road signs.
We organized a road safety walk for spreading awareness among the community.
We conducted a street play to spread awareness of safe driving and to highlight issues of road congestion and safety. Along with this, a class presentation in the form of a street play has been planned to depict road safety issues by class VII of our school.
Feedback was received from other colleagues and parents on initiatives taken by the students for safer roads.
As part of the VROOM club, a club started three years back for promoting road safety, we conducted peer to peer workshops to sensitize students about road safety for all.