Why a movement-based learning approach for traffic Safety?
Compared to previous generations, children nowadays spend less time playing outdoors and have lower participation rates in active transport (walking and cycling without adult accompaniment) on journeys to school and other local destinations. Car-dominated urban environments, streets perceived by parents to have high levels of traffic risks, as well as the fear of criminality (“harm from strangers”) are determinants to children’s walking and cycling to school. Moreover, children’s leisure time is spent indoors using electronic entertainment media while the number of children who engage in sports and other activities promoting physical activity – or at least the recommendation of 1h of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity – has declined over the past decades. Childhood obesity and non-communicable diseases in later life are the most common cumulative effects of physical inactivity and indoor, sedentary lifestyles imposed by a car-dominated environment. As a result more and more children face problems on movement coordination and relevant skills essential for safe commuting: balance, reaction and other physical motor functions, peripheral vision, attention etc.
This unhealthy lifestyle leads also to another negative consequence. As children have fewer opportunities to gain experience in traffic as active road users, the development of road use skills is impeded or delayed. Research shows that only children who are allowed to gain real experience on the roads are able to develop appropriate road use behaviour and awareness of the risks. At the same time children don't have the opportunity to gain experience even at the safe environments of schools. According to the latest report of the European Transport Safety Council on the status of Traffic Safety & Mobility Education in Europe, road safety is not a dedicated subject at primary schools in the majority of member states and the way how this education is delivered to students differs widely across Europe. Moreover, Teachers are not adequately trained on how to teach road safety in class: According to the same report, the way traffic safety and mobility education is addressed during the training of teachers also differs widely across Europe. The hours dedicated vary and only in Poland are teachers delivering road safety education required to complete a dedicated 18-month post-graduate course. Taking all the above into consideration, it comes as no surprise that, according to the latest WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety (2018), road traffic injuries are the biggest killer that school-age children face worldwide. Every 3 minutes, a child or young person dies as a result of road traffic injury: 227,000 children (0-19) die on the world’s roads every year while walking, cycling or riding on motorcycles. For every child who dies, another suffers a life-changing disability.
DaCoTA (2012) Children in road traffic, Deliverable 4.8c of the EC FP7 project DaCoTA
Billington, Unfinished Journey