Traffic accidents are a serious problem in Lebanon, and the students of Houssam Eddine Hariri High School and their families do not want to endure another tragedy – young people lose their lives each year on Lebanese roads.
In the spring of 2013, Lebanon has witnessed an escalating number of tragic and deadly car accidents. Many of these accidents have taken the lives of young drivers and shaken the core of their families and communities. Consequently, the students of Houssam Eddine Hariri High School in Saida have made it their mission to educate drivers on the importance being responsible when behind the wheel.
The students hope that, through their participation in the road safety project, they will be able to educate their fellow peers as well as ensure that the necessary laws and regulations are put in place and followed up on to reduce the number of tragic accidents reported each day.
In order to achieve these two goals of educating peers and changing the laws and regulations in place in their community and country, the students planned diverse initiatives. Altogether they created impact, established the credibility to be taken very seriously by the community and by officials, and got members from all different parts of the community involved.
The students also wanted to plan an initiative that had room to grow and develop over time. They know that road safety isn’t just for a day, it’s for a lifetime.
For their first action, the students wanted to capture a lot of attention to get people involved and keep them involved – especially the students of Houssam Eddine Hariri High School. To do this, they placed a vehicle that had been in a major car accident in front of the main school entrance. Participating road safety students, dressed in orange safety vests, captured the reactions of the students as they entered the building. It was a great way to gauge the students’ current view on accidents and introduce them to the programme and the actions that would follow.
The students had also carefully planned an assembly to target the students’ behavior and stop the growing trend between young drivers and deadly accidents in Lebanon. They spent time preparing the information to share with the high school students, and they came up with various activities that they would take part in, each one with its own message and impact.
On the day of the assembly, 22 April, they decorated the assembly room with road safety posters and banners. The students arrived and the assembly began with a general introduction to the programme. Then the guest speakers were introduced. They had invited a former student, who was involved in a tragic accident that took the lives of two of his peers, and his mother to take part in a conversation with the students. They opened their hearts to the school community, and their wisdom and advice truly touched the students, giving many of them the wake-up call they needed.
Then they moved on to the topic of drunk driving. The students had ordered two prescription bifocals from the local optical store, which volunteers from the audience wore while trying to walk in a straight line. The participants agreed that the blurred vision – similar to the blurred vision that goes along with intoxication - made it very difficult to remain focused and alert. Two of the participants were actually about to fall over due to their lack of ability to balance themselves.
Finally, the students had a candle lit ceremony in honor of the students that have lost their lives in car accidents. During the closing speeches, the participants were given an air freshener for their cars with the campaign slogan: Safe Drive Stay Alive. Afterwards, there was a bake sale where all profits would go to the Safer School Travel Road Safety Plan – that’s right, the students at Houssam Eddine Hariri High School are already hard at work on next year’s initiative!