Constable Rob Kennerley helps students in Auckland schools learn about road safety and other areas of need.
"Primary students often get a couple of turns learning kerb drill. The second time, they’re not just turning their heads but really looking up and down the street and noticing the traffic."
Rob, a school community officer (SCO), has extra eyes and ears on the ground when it comes to gathering information about driver behaviour around schools. He needs help and it comes from students themselves.
Rob explains that when he visits a school to monitor traffic on the surrounding streets, motorists notice him in uniform and take extra care. That’s a good outcome while it lasts, but he needs to know what happens on other days.
He accesses police intelligence reports on traffic. He also turns to his youngest allies, school students. Thanks to their road safety learning, they’re often very clued up about road rules and they have their own wellbeing at heart.
"The students tell me a lot when I’m talking with them. They notice cars running lights or people talking on cellphones while driving," says Rob.
"They see most of it, and as they get comfortable with me, they’ll come up and tell me what they’ve seen happening with the traffic."
Hearing from students helps Rob contribute to meetings about road safety at schools. Also attending might be teachers, parents and Auckland Transport staff who run the Travelwise programme.
Travelwise aims to improve road safety and reduce the number of vehicles travelling to and from school at peak times.
Rob says these meetings are a chance for the Police and Auckland Transport to listen to the school community, understand the causes of concern and work with teachers and parents on solutions that work for them.