Teaching road safety to preschoolers
It’s never too early to learn about basic safety!
Road traffic accidents are a leading killer of children and adolescents around the world. Worldwide nearly 220,000 children and adolescents aged 0–19 years die annually due to road traffic related injuries. That is more than 600 preventable road deaths among children and young people each day – or a death almost every two minutes.
In Armenia, in 2022 alone, 31 children died and 804 were injured due to traffic accidents. These deaths and injuries are preventable, and awareness of basic safety rules is key.
“Road safety is vital for children and young people. Younger children are particularly vulnerable because they are harder to be seen by drivers, less able to recognize dangerous situations and to make good decisions about safe behaviour,” said Christine Weigand, UNICEF Representative in Armenia [center in the photo]. “It’s never too early to teach them about basic safety skills because road safety affects everyone.
With this in mind, UNICEF, together with partners, has developed a practical learning package on road safety for preschool-age children that also engages preschool educators and parents in the process. The project has already reached 20 kindergartens in Yerevan, Tavush and Lori, enabling children to acquire life-saving skills through learning and play. To enhance the play environment, kindergartens were provided with various materials, such as traffic signs and role-play outfits, while a part of the playground was turned into a mini-crossroad to practice the skills.
At her kindergarten #58 in Yerevan, Mane, 5, took part in the first practical learning session with her friends. “I scored high on the first drill and got to become a policewoman! I had to watch how my friends cross the road in the playground and whistle for other friends to drive. I also had to whistle if I noticed my friends doing things incorrectly. It was fun!”
To complement the practical activities in the playground, the learning package consists of a series of animations and a workbook with coloring pages that guide children and parents from topic to topic. The package was developed in partnership with Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, the Road Police and Family Academy NGO.
“A child’s life is full of distractions, so it’s essential for them to learn about and practice road safety at a young age. Making children aware of the risks and providing them with strategies to remain safe are important parts of their development. So, our task was to help educators with resources and materials to protect children by teaching them life-saving messages and skills,” noted Mary Nersisyan, Director of Family Academy NGO.
Besides the learning package for children, UNICEF has also supported the Ministry of Health in the development of the National Child Injury Prevention Strategy and Action Plan for 2018-2023, as well as developed a statistical recording and reporting form on child injuries that was incorporated into the e-Health system to ensure the availability of disaggregated data on the causes, age structure and other patterns of child injuries.
The World Bank estimates that countries that do not invest in road safety lose between 7 per cent and 22 per cent of their potential per capita GDP growth. Thus, on average, a 10 per cent reduction in road traffic injury deaths raises per capita real GDP by 3.6 per cent. Change is possible, and prevention is key.