Towards an inclusive road safety culture for young people

July 15 2016. Fact sheets provide guidance on evidence-based road safety education. An education associate professor discusses the potential for young people’s participation.

Road safety education can be connected to young people’s participation in community and the way they view caring for others.

That’s the view of Associate Professor Lise Bird Claiborne from the University of Waikato. She says there’s potential for teens and adults to work collaboratively on road safety, building on young people’s strengths.

“Young people have incredible skills in things like networking and memory,” she says.

“We can include young people as current citizens as well as future citizens, knowing that there is demand from the community for what young people have to offer – not just their skills, but their energy and their social nous.”

A similar point is made in the NZ Transport Agency’s Fact Sheet on Road Safety Education in Secondary Schools (see below). This evidence-based guide suggests schools enhance connectedness between students, parents, whānau and local community and support them to think and act together.

Lise says professionals looking to include young people in a road safety culture can learn about who they are working with, and, crucially, listen to the young people themselves.

“I’m really interested in the potential that educational psychology can bring to road safety. It’s about bringing in the emotional side, the big picture of young people’s identities and where they live in the world. It’s looking at the young person as quite a complex being,” she says.

“One thing that is so crucial is the voice of young people, and it’s the diversity of young people that is important. You need to go back to the school and community level and talk with young people in a way that helps them make sense of road safety concepts for themselves.”

She says school and community initiatives should aim for an inclusive culture, and there is a challenge in how to reconcile the enforcement of road rules with such an open and inclusive educational approach.

She sees potential for young people to follow the tuakana/teina model of learning relationship based around young people guiding each other and sharing expertise. This is something teachers and other educators can help facilitate.

“One of the most exciting things to happen in schools is the conversations that people have in special situations - where young people are really saying what they think, when they really get down and discuss their ideas.”

These conversations can surface ideas and values that become the basis for further collaborative thought and action.

Get more ideas in the Fact Sheets

The fact sheets describe research findings on effective practice in road safety initiatives for young people. These can assist road safety practitioners, community groups, funding bodies, and schools.

Fact Sheets: Good Practice in Road Safety