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Recommendations to protect vulnerable road users
4/26/2010 1:51:05 PM

Recommendations to protect vulnerable road users

I- Recommendations for pedestrian safety

When walking on the street always remember to:
• Use the sidewalk or the extreme border of the road
• Use pedestrian bridges or underpasses
• Walk opposite to the car flow direction
• Abide by the pedestrian signs (used in Beirut now)
• Cross roads carefully, only when the road is clear, but keep looking in both directions and listening for traffic while crossing  
• Be very careful if drunk and be attentive towards your friends especially at night
• Don't listen to the Walkman, it decreases your ability to sense or hear cars
• Pedestrians have the right-of-way at all the intersections and marked crosswalks
• At night, walk in lit areas or carry a lamp with you.

When driving always remember to:
• Slow down and drive carefully in known pedestrian areas
• In case of pedestrian passage, give priority to pedestrians
• Watch out for cars giving way for pedestrians. Don’t overtake them
• Be extra careful while driving near schools
• Not to stop on the pavement
• Drivers must always remember that roads are for cars and pedestrians alike, and should respect the right of safe passing of pedestrians.

Municipalities have also major roles for the following issues:
• The study and preservation of streets and places in order to be safe for pedestrians
• Taking care of city and town entrances so they would caution drivers that they have entered a populated area and drive slower and more careful
• Installing pavements on all the streets in their town or city
• Making pavement accessible for differently able citizens
• Prevent putting advertisements and merchandise on the pavements
• Installation of lights so that drivers and pedestrians become respectively more visible
• Installation of bridges on wide roads where speeding cars prevent pedestrians from crossing
• The study and implementation of a public transport strategy aiming at lowering circulation on inner roads so that car parking problems – due to insufficiency of parking space – decrease
• Cooperation with road police and interior security forces in the aim of strictly implementing the law.
    
II- Child Safety

Any child less than 4 years old should be seated in a special seat inside vehicles. Children between 4 and 8 years old should be seated on a special booster seat that elevates the child so that he would be properly fastened by the seat belt. An important step that should be taken is the exemption of child seats and all safety and pollution control equipment in the car from customs or taxes. The price of such equipment is being greatly increased by the high custom fees applied in Lebanon. 
When children are properly restrained in a child safety seat, booster seat or safety belt, as appropriate for their age, their chance of being killed or seriously injured when in a car crash is greatly reduced. Strong safety belt and child occupant restraint laws--with no "gaps" that leave some children uncovered--are the most effective way to increase child passenger restraint use and reduce traffic deaths and injuries to children. A properly fitted child restraint system can reduce the potential for fatal injuries by up to 75%; serious injuries by 67%. Although about 80% of all parents in the European Unions do secure their children in child seats, mistakes are being made. Several European surveys have shown that between 50 and 70% of child seats are fitted incorrectly. Also, a significant number of seats are too small for the child in question, thus increasing the risk of injuries caused by road traffic crashes.
           European motoring organizations advise parents to install child seats in the back seat wherever possible. In particular, a rearward facing child seat should never be put on the front seat of a car fitted with a passenger side airbag and ideally should be put in the back seat. In the event of an accident the airbag would deploy hitting the back of the child seat with such force that the child would sustain serious or even fatal injuries.
         Child seats come in a wide variety of types - baby seats, child seats, booster seats and booster cushions and it is essential that your child is secured in the correct restraint.

III- Children’s Difficulties in Traffic

The following text will serve as a brief summary into the contents of the educational materials for children in primary and intermediate school.
Basically, children and traffic do not match each other. Traffic is mostly planned by and for adults. The difficulties are bigger for the young/small child than for the older/bigger child, but there are some common characteristics in the problems children meet.
A number of factors as follows, could serve as guideline for teachers to become more conscious about children’s situation in the traffic. This material could be produced as transparencies accompanied by a brochure or booklet.
Children are small
This means that they are difficult for other road users to see, and it may be difficult for the children to look over cars, etc. As we cannot do anything about this fact but wait for them to grow up, the responsibility for small children should be up to the adults. Car drivers should learn to watch out for children, parents should train and advice their children where and how to cross streets, where it is safe to walk and play, etc.
Children lack experience
Children must be helped to get some experience. Therefore teachers and parents should focus on giving children age-relevant experiences with real traffic, talk about what they see, talk about other road users they see in traffic, etc.
Children think and understand things that are concrete
It is easiest for children to understand things that are concrete and tangible, whereas abstract matters and explanations could be more difficult to understand. Explanations given to smaller children need to be given in a form that is relevant and close to them. This should be reflected in the material produced for kindergarten and primary school.
Children’s perspective is egocentric
According to psychological experiences children until the age of 12 years have difficulties taking other perspectives than their own. They think, for instance, that when they can see a driver in a car that he also can see them. They have some difficulties in taking the perspective of others, and they cannot imagine things in traffic if they cannot combine it with physical experience, actually being on the site and see the things in the physical surroundings. The relevant conclusion of this statement is that you have to bring the children out in traffic and make observations and practice with them on site.
Children’s attention often goes in many different directions – what they focus on is not always what they should focus on
They are easily distracted by interesting things on the other side of the road, for instance. Or by something they have in their hands, etc. They should be taught that when they are in traffic they should as far as possible focus on the traffic. And they should be helped to find safe routes and safe places to cross. Children in cars should learn proper behaviour when coming in and out of a car, considering their own and others safety.
Children are spontaneous – especially when they are in groups
Spontaneity is considered to be a good characteristic. However, in traffic it can be fatal. Children should be advised and trained how to behave and what to look out for when they are in groups. Responsible adults should decide how to handle groups of children. Should they be accompanied or should they be advised to walk only in smaller groups? The children must learn that they are responsible for their own behavior, alone or in a group. They should not rely on their friend’s behavior.
Children have difficulties to estimate distance to and speed of vehicles
They should therefore be trained in estimating when it is safe or not to cross a road and if there is an oncoming vehicle, or how far away they should be from different kinds of vehicles. They should be given good examples and experience concrete situations with different kinds of roads, vehicles, etc.
Children take a long time before they make a decision
This should not be forced. It is better to take good time. However, it must be remembered that traffic in one direction can change while the child is looking in the other direction. They should therefore be advised to take their time, but also be taught to choose alternative routes if some are with too heavy traffic.
Children’s use of the language is different from adults
Educational materials should to a high degree use and focus on the children’s cognitive world of language. Very often adults believe that children will understand orders from adults but orders are often misunderstood by the children or they may not pay attention to what the adult is saying.
Children assume that adults keep the rules in traffic
It is a pedagogical dilemma that adults do not stick to rules but still want the children to do so. At the same time we must teach children to see the risks from other road users. It is not enough to teach rules, especially since far from everyone in Lebanon follows the rules. Hence, the children should learn to “read” the traffic and to be foreseeing.
Children have difficulties with left and right
They may have the perception that the two sides are different, but they are often not skilled in using the right words for them. Educational material should not presume that the children understand the words properly. Therefore they should be advised always to look in both directions.
Prepared by SRF and YASA International(M.Ziad Akl founder of yasa)

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