Düsseldorf, 2013-10-15. A danger foreseen is half avoided. It is not always easy to abide by all traffic rules. Children are especially at risk and misjudge a dangerous situation all too often. This made it even more important to the city's organisers and its cooperating partners to host the Traffic Awareness Days for the 28th time in a row. More than 2,800 pupils from all primary schools in Düsseldorf were drawn together under the slogan "Get around - safe and sound!"
Traffic safety education at first hand
Children want to discover the world, they are adventurous and easily distracted. In everyday situations they can lose track of a situation and put themselves at risk. Traffic education took a particular role during the Traffic Awareness Days, held in Düsseldorf on 18th and 19th September. Especially the children were enthralled by the hands-on exercises of the teachers, Düsseldorf police, Traffic Management Office, Rheinbahn AG and the Düsseldorf traffic patrol. "We don't only want to teach traffic safety fundamentals via chalk and talk, but by using practical and interactive methods which children enjoy and best learn with", acknowledges Simon Höhner, managing director of the Düsseldorf traffic patrol. The "brake test" brought the little ones to a loud astonishment and a forest of traffic signs assured some surprised looks. For everyone to be able to sit behind the wheel of a moving bus created the perfect ambience and made the adults speechless.
In addition to the playfully practicing correct conducts and to increase awareness, motor skills and concentration, there was one more key issue. According to Höhner, mobility is a prerequisite to be able to move safely in traffic: "Nowadays, children do very little physical activity", points out Höhner and adds that diverse physical activities encourage children to test their athletic skills. Parents are also needed when it comes to road safety. Düsseldorf Police Chief Inspector Michael Wollziefer gave the some good advice: "Follow the usual way to school once before and draw attention to dangerous areas, wear a helmet when you ride a bike and fasten your seat belt in the car are some ways of being a good example."
Blind-spot training proved to be effective
The main cause of road traffic accidents that involve children are cars turning corners, informs Wollziefer. "This has a lot to do with the blind spot, which not only children but also adults often underestimate", says the expert. The Transportbotschafter e. V. (ambassadors for transport) impressively demonstrated this fact with its "Toter Winkel" (blind spot) initiative. The Düsseldorf IT company TimoCom cooperated in this initiative by bringing its American TimoTruck. No one expected that a whole school class could disappear behind the show truck's blind spot. "The red curtain represents the area which the truck driver cannot see when turning right", says the transport ambassador Gunnar Becker. "We explain to the children the potentially dangerous situations and that other road users do not intentionally ignore the give way signs", continues Becker. Nevertheless, children should take precautions. The transport ambassador team knows as simple trick: if the child cannot see the truck driver in the exterior mirror, the truck driver cannot see the child either.