TRAFFIC police have established junior patrol programmes aimed at teaching road safety to school children in the country, to empower them on road safety matters.
According to the Head of Traffic Police - Education Department, Superintendent of Police (SP) Abel Swai the programme conducted countrywide is aimed at supplementing traffic police officers’ efforts in curbing road crashes involving children in the country.
He said this during a three-day road safety training for journalists, implemented under the Road Safety Journalism Training Fellowship Programme (2019) held in Dodoma recently.
“We came up with the programme to enlighten school children on road safety matters and enable them get involved in ensuring their safety when using roads,” SP Swai said, adding that the programme helps in involving and teaching teachers to lead the way in making local roads around schools safer for children.
The 2018 Global Status Report on road safety 2018, launched by WHO last December, indicates that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children between 5-14 years and young adults between 15-29 years of age.
Dangers arising from traffic mishaps are among the main risks that prevent children and young people from walking and cycling to schools safely.
According to SP Swai, the programme that was adopted from other countries enables traffic police officers to collaborate with children and school teachers in controlling traffic during peak hours, to enable children cross safely to and from schools.
Through the programme, traffic police have set up road safety signs along main and local roads near primary and secondary schools to sound warning to drivers, motorcyclists for them to take safety measures in protecting children crossing the roads.
“We have signs such as ‘Go’ and ‘Stop’ posts which alert drivers, motorcycle riders and the rest of road users to take precautions when passing through roads bordering schools,” he said.
SP Swai urged drivers and other road users to take precautions by respecting sign posts and other signs in order to ensure children are safe on the road in the country.
On the other hand, SP Swai said the junior patrol programme is effective and has since lead to 95 per cent reduction of road crashes involving children in the country.
“The programme has helped in reducing frequent occurrences of road crashes involving children,” he said, adding that traffic police are also collaborating with other stakeholders to ensure road safety infrastructures are put to ensure children’s safety.
On the other hand, a member of the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety, Mr Alpherio Nchimbi, commended the establishment of the junior patrol programme, but called for concerted efforts from senior teachers to take control of the programme and help children behave responsibly on the roads.
“The programme is very ideal in ensuring the children are safe on the road, but there should be school crossing supervisors to help them cross the roads safely, he said, adding that there is a need to ensure the programme equips the school crossing supervisors with working tools, setting up of posters and signs to promote road safety.
The Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 (PDF) pillar four, calls for the Development of comprehensive programmes to improve road user behaviour, including public education on key risk factors namely; seat-belt and helmet wearing, drink-driving, speed, phone use and child restraints.