Making roads safer for children in the Philippines

Children have higher vulnerabilities to road traffic injuries

Dr. Angel Umali
Children cross the road
UNICEF Philippines/2019/Jeoffrey Maitem
13 December 2019

Injury and violence is a major killer of children under 18 years old. According to the World Health Organization, around 2,270 children die every day as a result of unintentional injuries. Road traffic injury has become more fatal than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and diarrheal diseases, killing an estimated 1.35 million people each year. In the Philippines, there are around 35 road crash fatalities happening per day or an estimated 12,690 fatalities in a year.

Children have higher vulnerabilities to road traffic injuries because of physical and development limitations.

They are less able to see over or beyond obstructions, and have difficulty in estimating the speed of approaching vehicles.

There is an increasing incidence of road traffic injuries involving children from when they start going to school at 5 years old, leading to deaths or lifelong disabilities.

“We need to make sure that our children are protected at all times, so they can survive, thrive, and reach their full potential,” said Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, UNICEF Philippines Representative.

Children cross the road as a UNICEF staff member wearing a blue t-shirt with a UNICEF logo looks on
UNICEF Philippines/2019/Jeoffrey Maitem
A UNICEF staff member supervises a guided road safety drill for school children in Zamboanga City.

Global goals, local actions for road safety

UNICEF works worldwide to improve child pedestrian safety and ensure safe passages to school. To achieve these goals in the Philippines, UNICEF and its partners are implementing a Child Road Traffic Injury Prevention (CRTIP) program. The program targets high-risk schools in the country, aiming to contribute to national goals of reducing road traffic deaths as embodied in the Philippine Road Safety Action Plan (2017 – 2022).

This is in line with United Nations actions to improve global road safety and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3.6 to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic incidents by 2020.

CRTIP aims to make roads safer for children in the Philippines by developing models for child road traffic safety programs, strengthening data collection and analysis, improving road safety laws and policies, enhancing multisectoral action for children’s safety, and improving road safety education for school children.

The program is being implemented in the pilot areas of Valenzuela and Zamboanga City, with plans to scale it up to the rest of Metro Manila and Region 9.

School children gather inside a covered court to attend a learning session on road safety
UNICEF Philippines/2019/Angel Umali
School children attend an interactive road safety learning session in Zamboanga City.

Walking the talk

In partnership with the City Government of Zamboanga, the Department of Education and the land Transportation Office, a road safety drill was held in Zamboanga City Central SPED Center on 10 December 2019. This kicks off a series of road safety activities to be implemented in 25 pilot schools in the city that are at high risk for road traffic injuries involving children.

More than 2,500 students participated in the drill, which was composed of an interactive learning session on basic road safety tips and a practical exercise where children were guided on the streets to apply their learnings and develop skills on how to better protect themselves while on the road.

“This road safety drill is something that we hope to implement in all schools here in the city, to equip our learners with better skills on road safety. We thought that while schools are doing fire drills and earthquake drills, we believe that the conduct of a road safety drill is equally important, as we continue to see cases of road traffic injuries involving our school-going children,” said Ms. Sarah Handang, Senior Education Specialist from the Department of Education – Division Office of Zamboanga.

Ten road safety tips for children 


  1. Stop and be aware when crossing roads. Do not rush.
  2. Look at your left and right, and at all directions. Be cautious before crossing roads.
  3. Listen to traffic signals when crossing roads. Don’t use gadgets while crossing the road.
  4. Think twice before crossing roads. Only cross the road when traffic is favorable.
  5. Stay calm and do not run when crossing the road.
  6. Properly use the pedestrian lane when crossing the road.
  7. Learn traffic color and pedestrian crossing signals and what they mean.
  8. Do not play near roads, streets or parking areas. Seek help from elders when toys get out of bound.
  9. Wear bright colored clothes. This catches the attention of drivers easily.
  10. Use sidewalks for walking. Avoid crossing streets without sidewalks.