There are many factors that can contribute to traffic accidents - like fatigue, intoxication, and speeding - but high school students in Argentina have chosen to address one that is widespread and often overlooked.
150 high school students from the Colegio Hispano Argentino y Sociedad Española de Socorros Mutuos in Argentina have chosen to take a road less travelled in their approach to safe driving. While many campaigns focus on drink driving or ignoring speed limits (for good reason!) this group of students has recognized a very important factor that gets relatively little attention. They focus on our emotional condition when we get behind the wheel.
While the students were discussing topics like road safety, risky versus responsible behavior and different ways to contribute to risk prevention, they realized the fundamental importance of controlling our emotions before we drive. Feelings of stress, sadness and anger have a powerful effect on a driver’s concentration and reaction time, which puts their life and the lives of others at risk.
They concluded that their initiative would focus on helping people in their community develop habits to lower stress before driving. Such an initiative is especially important nowadays when people generally have much more stress than before!
The group also wanted to include values like solidarity, cooperation, responsibility, respect, common good, peace and justice in their initiative. They believe that by strengthening such values they can help strengthen the community – which results in a healthier emotional state for all.
The teens saw that an intensive communication campaign was the best way to achieve their goals, and decided to use brochures and direct contact with drivers and potential drivers as their main tools. In collaboration with EDECOM (Ente Descentralizado de Control Municipal), a local traffic organization, they developed their materials and a strategy to distribute them all over the city of Río Cuarto.
They got to work designing and writing the brochures, which explained the importance that emotional well-being has in relation to driving and offering tips to help calm down if you are stressed or upset and must get behind the wheel.
But the brochure went even further than that. In line with their aim to strengthen core community values, they included text to promote attitudes of respect, responsibility and cooperation. It presented road safety and respect for the rules of the road as an essential part of keeping order in our society and of the common good in general.
The students have been distributing the brochures in person to drivers and potential drivers, taking the city bit by bit to be sure and cover all territory. Most importantly, they take the time to talk with each and every person to explain the initiative and the ideas and values behind it.
When they have finished distributing the brochure, they will conduct an evaluation to determine their effectiveness in changing attitudes and behavior.