Schools with the highest road safety risk selected
Monday 29 June 2020: The South African Road Federation (SARF) has been awarded a second tranche of donor funding from Fondation Botnar and is expanding a project that kicked off in 2017 in Mogale City to improve the safety of young people on their way to and from school.
SARF President, Phil Hendricks, says, “As children return to school, we want to highlight the risk that learners face on our roads every day. Children are vulnerable road users because they are still developing and cannot handle complex traffic situations in the same way as adults. According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, approximately 20% of all road fatalities nationally involve children.
“In Mogale City, located on Johannesburg’s West Rand, there were 100 road crash fatalities between January 2015 and June 2017. There was compelling evidence to launch the Fondation Botnar project here,” says Hendricks.
“We need to highlight the risk our future workforce and leaders face on our roads every day, but also, to offer solutions,” he says.
As well as Fondation Botnar and the South African Road Federation (SARF), the project is made possible through the support of the Mogale City Municipality and 3M South Africa.
SARF Operations Director, Basil Jonsson, says, “The first step was to better understand the risks that children face on their way to and from school in Mogale City.
“Working with our partners, we developed a Road Safety Risk Assessment Model, which includes a Road Safety Risk Index, to prioritise schools where the risk for accidents is high. We made use of the Star Rating for Schools (SR4S) App to measure the road environment, road type, road features, school zone, sidewalks, crossings, flow of vehicles and pedestrians as well as intersections. To measure speed around the schools, we used a hand-held speed gun.
“Using these tools, we undertook a risk assessment of 50 schools in Mogale City. Those with the highest road safety risk were selected for the project. These included Athlolong primary school, Lengau primary school, Mosupatsela secondary school, Tsholetsega public school, WD Oliphant primary school and Bosele intermediary school.
“For each school, we looked at a surrounding radius of roughly one kilometre because some children have to cross major roads to get to school. Infrastructure, signage and road markings were also considered.
“Then, we implemented infrastructure upgrades and speed reduction tactics. These interventions took place alongside road safety education, law enforcement and data management. We also aimed to eliminate hazardous locations and mitigate risk.
“The Mogale City Municipality provided the labour to reinstate road markings and erect the traffic signs at the schools,” says Jonsson.
Based on the success of the programme, Fondation Botnar has injected additional funds into the project, allowing three more schools to be included. These are Boipelo intermediary school, Diphalane primary school and Phatudi primary school.
Jonsson says that funding for the next phase of the project is also being used to:
Implement stricter road safety enforcement laws at the schools,
Educate drivers of scholar transport vehicles, an effort that will be supported by MasterDrive SA and
Develop a ‘Good Practice Guideline’ for safe school zone implementation.
Hendricks adds that, “Before and after evaluations are a cornerstone of the project because we need to be able to show the impact of the project and how we used the grant. It also builds a case study for the project to be replicated in other municipalities. While the funding from Fondation Botnar was only for Mogale City, we believe that this project can be replicated in other areas.”
Educating learners has also been key to the success of the project. Through the support of the South African Road Traffic Safety Management Association and Much Asphalt, the abandoned Junior Traffic Training Centre in Mogale City was revamped to create a modern educational facility that is allowing learners o develop the skills they need to protect them from harm on our roads.
Fondation Botnar joined forces with the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) in 2017 to launch the Botnar Child Road Safety Challenge. As well as South Africa, Fondation Botnar is funding projects in small- and medium-sized cities in India, Mexico, Romania, Tunisia and Vietnam. Recipients are required to plan and implement practical, innovative and evidence-based interventions that improve road safety for young people. They need to partner with one private company and one government department. The grant also stipulates that the selected city has to have a population of less than one million. In 2017, Mogale City was home to approximately 550,00 people.
The South African Road Federation (SARF) has a 70-year track record in promoting South Africa’s road network as a vital public asset that needs to be properly managed, preserved, upgraded, expanded and funded to promote socio-economic development. Safety is a key strategic focus of the organisation.
Alexandra van Essche
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