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Road safety needs street cred

Teachers who simply try to change pupils' attitudes and awareness about road safety are unlikely to succeed. They need instead to give children the skills to cope with busy streets.

A study by the SCRE Centre at Glasgow University for the Scottish Executive confirms that schools find it difficult to change behaviour. Children do not like being told what to do and prefer interactive approaches.

One primary 2 class went on a walking expedition to give children experience of crossing roads safely and identifying dangers. The teacher said: "Some of them haven't really been taught this by their parents, so it is useful."

Most teachers recognised that children should be involved in drawing up road safety initiatives and helping younger ones. Schools that appointed junior road safety officers reported some success. But one school said the impact was limited because the chosen pupils were not as active or committed as teachers expected.

Teachers report that lack of time and parent support can undermine efforts to introduce the Safer Routes to School initiative. So far, 26 authorities have appointed or plan to appoint school travel co-ordinators and the bulk of the cash has been spent on making roads safer around schools.

The Safely to School research was headed by Valerie Wilson of the SCRE Centre. A report is available on the Scottish Executive's publications website.

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