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Instant town planner

StreetWise: Interactive Data and Design for Safer Roads Road safety software, by 3M, for Research Machines and IBM and compatibles with Windows, Pounds 29.95 Systems Integrated Research,East Mill, Bridgefoot, Belper,Derbyshire, DE56 1XQTel: 01773 820011Or the British Institute of Traffic Education Research, Kent House, Kent Street,Birmingham, B5 6QFTel: 0121-622 2402.

As traffic-calming measures appear up and down the country, how many people get the chance to design a scheme themselves? Now you can try out your own theories on two real-life examples, using StreetWise, a new road-safety package for schools.

The main section is the case study part. This is not a truly interactive simulation, in which your decisions affect animated results and reactions on the screen. These traffic problems are displayed on an on-screen street scene or a plan, but only the plan can be altered.

It works in My World style. Your selections from the traffic-calming features available can be placed on to the plan wherever you wish . . . and I mean wherever. You can place traffic lights in gardens, mini-roundabouts on pavements and even zebra crossings along roads instead of across them, if you choose. Children will have fun with this freedom but, even as they play, they will learn which features are properly suited to which position and why they might be effective, through discussion rather than interactive screen action. The engineer's solution to each site's problems can be seen at any stage and these offer fascinating insights.

There are also two databases, a glossary of road safety terms and objects, and statistics of 1993 UK road accidents. They tell you when most accidents occurred and who were the most frequent victims.

You can also search for safety measures in each of three scenes. This helps children understand more about road behaviour, roadside furniture, signs and danger.

If used wisely, this program could be a valuable contribution to the cause of road safety. It should help children gain a better understanding of the dangers and some of the things that can slow down traffic and make our streets safer.

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