Traffic Education in Schools
Publication date: 15 February 2010
The following overview is based on a clubs survey organised by the FIA European Bureau in October 2009. It is based on 26 answers representing 24 countries from the European Union and beyond(1) .
Traffic education in schools for the responding countries:
More than two third of the responding countries (70%) answered that traffic education is being taught in their country’s schools.
However, traffic education is mandatory in around half of the responding countries(2) . The analysis of the sole EU 27 results shows a slightly lower percentage: 47% of the responding EU clubs have mandatory traffic education in schools. Some respondents mentioned the fact that it was difficult to monitor the effective implementation of such a law, even if it does exist at national level.
17% of the all countries, in which traffic education is mandatory, outlined that the objectives fixed were very general. It is also worth noticing that in a number of countries like in Spain, road safety is part of a broader topic, which can be called social skills or civic education.
It is heartening to notice that 22% of the countries where such education is not mandatory at national level implement individual initiatives. In Sweden for example, the choice to give traffic education to children is made by each headmaster individually. In regionalised countries (for e.g. Switzerland), the rules for traffic education teaching can differ from one region to another. Finally, some countries have not introduced a formal obligation but traffic education was integrated in the school package (for example the Netherlands).
26% of the responding countries state that traffic education is not mandatory. In some countries, FIA clubs’ efforts made to introduce traffic education courses were not successful, and the governments invoked the already packed curricula to justify their refusal. Some stakeholders found an innovative way to answer this and try to teach road safety as part of maths or language classes (3).
The following answers are based on the answers from the clubs, where traffic education is mandatory: Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Norway, Iceland, France, Hungary, Portugal, Spain and Italy.
Age groups concerned and length of the mandatory courses
Most mandatory traffic courses start at 6 years and last several years. Italy and Portugal propose a single year of training. In most other countries in which it exists, traffic education remains a mandatory item of the curricula for several years. The training lasts at least 3 years in more than three fourth of the countries considered (see detailed information below) (4).
Is there a defined programme?
One third of the responding countries with traffic education obligations have only very general objectives(5). The competencies to define the education programmes lie within the regions in Switzerland and Germany, so no common objectives are fixed at national level. Norway and Iceland, on the other hand, have a relatively well defined level of competencies to be reached by children. Norway distinguishes three stages of competencies:
• Step 1: Pupils should know the traffic rules as a pedestrian & as a cyclist.
• Step 2: Pupils should be safe cyclists.
• Step 3: Pupils should be able to express how traffic safety equipment could avoid or reduce injuries in traffic.
The goals set in Iceland are even more precise and distinguished final and interim(6) goals. The final goals of traffic education are to ensure that pupils:
• are able to react correctly to all types of traffic and to heed traffic rules
• show responsible behaviour in traffic
• know how to avoid dangers in traffic and their close environment
• understand the necessity of good traffic culture and are enthusiastic about improving it.
The following answers are based on all answers from countries, where traffic education exists, regardless of whether mandatory or not(7). They do not encompass countries where single initiatives can be taken to remedy the lack of overall national goals.
By whom are these courses taught?
Teachers are in charge of giving traffic education courses in 40% of the countries(8), where there is some kind of traffic education. Out of theses 5 countries, Slovenia and Iceland introduced additional courses for teachers to prepare them for these special courses.
In 60% of the cases, teaching traffic education involves the teacher and an additional expert(9). S/He can be a road safety expert, a policeman, a truck driver and so on, who bring their practical experience into the classroom. Slovakia foresees a system, where the first part of the education is given by the teacher and the second one (when pupils are older) by a road safety expert.
In Malta for example, traffic education is given by specially-trained government experts from the Health and Safety Unit.
Examples of clubs’ involvement in traffic education
(Poland) There is no traffic education in schools but PZM organizes traffic education contests each year. About 100 000 primary school children par year participate in this kind competition. The best teams from each school are invited to compete in the finals, which is organised by PZM in collaboration with local authorities. The contest tests road safety knowledge and the ability to ride a bike.
(Austria) In primary school the 6 – 7 years old children attend a programme called “Blick and Klick”. ÖAMTC traffic experts teach children how to behave in traffic and the most important facts within that topic, such as, how children should be secured properly in their seats when travelling by car, how to cross a street safely, how the sight of drivers differ from the sight of pedestrians, how to behave in front of traffic lights and many more. The programme takes place in the schools gymnasium. To better visualize these situations experts use inflatable and electronic cars. This programme is free of charge for schools and just has to be registered with the ÖAMTC. “Blick and Klick” is shown nationwide and in fact very successful.
1 The EU countries that responded to the enquiry are: Sweden, The United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Greece, Czech Republic, Spain, Slovenia, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Portugal, Luxembourg, Hungary, Poland, Austria, France, Malta and Ireland (19). The following 5 clubs from outside the EU also answered the questionnaire: Switzerland, Norway, Moldova, Serbia & Iceland.
2 In Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Switzerland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Norway, Hungary, Iceland and France.
3 For example in the United Kingdom.
4 No details provided for Hungary.
5 It is the case for Portugal, Hungary, Spain and Italy.
6 Interim goals of traffic instruction for 1st to 4th grades (6-9 year-olds) is that the pupils: unconditionally adopt the use of safety equipment in traffic, know the traffic rules for pedestrians, have received instruction in how to use public transport, have trained in the use of a bicycle as a plaything on playgrounds and footpaths, have learned the most important traffic rules.
Interim goals of traffic instruction for 5th to 7th grades (10-12 year-olds) is that the pupils: have learned the most important traffic rules and recognize the most common traffic signs, adopt safe behaviour as bicycling pedestrians in traffic and when using skates, e.g. rollerblades, have an idea of the fuel costs of vehicles and the different types of travelling, understand the value of using environmentally-friendly vehicles, always use safety equipment in traffic.
Interim goals of traffic instruction for 8th to 10th grades (13-15 year-olds) is that the pupils: are to be responsible for their own safety in traffic and have an understanding of the safety of others in traffic, have adapted to, and heed, traffic rules and recognize most signs giving orders, prohibition signs and instruction signs, are aware of dangers and the effect of speed in traffic, can determine their own life style in traffic, know the dangers that come with all vehicles, have knowledge of the operational cost of a private car, have adapted a positive attitude toward traffic and traffic safety.
7 15 countries altogether.
8 France, Iceland, Norway, Slovenia and Spain.
9 Germany (Policemen), Italy (experts), Bulgaria (experts), Portugal, Hungary, Slovakia, Switzerland (police).
More information/ link to:
Educational material on the internet (Iceland): http://www.umferd.is
Support for Bicycle course (Germany): http://www1.adac.de/
Educational programmes (UK): http://talesoftheroad.direct.gov.uk/; www.streetwiseguys.co.uk ; www.streetsense2.com