Community programmes are a practical and successful way of promoting road safety in a targeted and sustainable way. Community programmes are particularly fruitful in rural and suburban areas where the communities may be stronger and regular enforcement is harder to implement due to limited police resources. At the heart of all community based campaigns is the need to increase public awareness, thus they are most effective if based on sound educational principles.
In many areas of public health, "top down" intervention alone can have limited effect whereas community partnership promotes a sense of ownership, which so often proves to be the key agent for change. On that concept, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies states that, "Community-based volunteers can help their communities identify priority needs and solve their own problems... Community participation helps to increase community ownership and to make the programmes more sustainable. At the same time family and community members are empowered."
Community participation can occur at different levels. In Malaysia, a "Code of Practice" has been introduced in order to increase safety helmet compliance and sustain the self-regulatory aspect of helmet use. It acts as a complimentary step to the already available helmet law. The publication, "Code of Practice, Community based programme: Safety Helmet" published by MIROS/GRSP/JKJR addresses five major stages: coordination and management, advocacy and distribution, advice operations, enforcement, and evaluation. The community has very important roles in every task. Community members have local knowledge on issues, and often develop their own solutions and know how to propose changes in order to be successful.
In the city of Tshwane in South Africa, the involvement of the community is a crucial step in the development of road safety interventions. The community is a valuable source of information for identifying hazardous locations, particularly when accident statistics are inadequate. The community provides information on locations where accidents often occur and participates in offering solutions and developing measures aimed at addressing safety issues. These measures take the form of engineering improvements, or other avenues such as education and information campaigns. They have proven that to ensure the success of a project, it is essential to secure community acceptance of the project before it is implemented. A community needs to understand why certain measures are implemented as well as the safety benefits of these measures.
Advocacy and Awareness
Community and civil society groups play a very strong role in advocacy as the voice of the people, and with the ear of governments. In many developing countries the local radio station, for example, can have massive education influence and reach the communities at large. On a global level, the United Nations often asks lobby groups for advice and invite them to be members of working groups. Their influence on policy making should not be underestimated.
Local communities can assist traffic police by providing additional information on the location and circumstances of unreported crashes, as well as identifying locations where crashes are 'waiting to happen', and where offences such as illegal turns or speeding, are a problem.
The community can support the traffic police in a variety of other ways, including, volunteering as traffic wardens to assist pedestrians and control traffic, and campaigning for greater priority to be given to road safety by the public. In Delhi, the Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) has introduced traffic wardens in India and offers training to both police officer and student volunteers.
Road safety campaigns such as drink-drive campaigns are usually welcomed by the police to create a better community understanding about why police presence and enforcement is needed. Communities can also help the police with post-crash support for victims and their families. Road safety campaigns should never be introduced without the involvement of the traffic police.
Community-Based Campaign Examples
A good example of community based road safety is found in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) is the largest NGO in Bangladesh and has become active in promoting traffic safety. After a number of staff members were injured and killed in road crashes, BRAC developed an in-house road safety training programme. BRAC has also promoted road safety through community education programmes showing that behavioural changes and increase in road safety knowledge are possible if local people and resources are actively involved in the identification, prioritization, planning, designing and implementation. In one location, the percentage of pedestrians walking on the correct side of the road, facing traffic, increased from 5% to 66% after the intervention.
The UK Department for International Development (DFID) together with the Global Road Safety Partnership, CSIR, BRAC and IRTE has developed a set of Guidelines for conducting community road safety education programmes in developing countries providing practitioners with tools on how to conduct community programmes. The guidelines include case studies.
"Live story from Lusaka"
In Zambia in 2009 a workshop supported by gTKP was held in Lusaka, entitled “Road safety in Lusaka City and community approaches to road safety.” The workshop was opened by the City Council of Lusaka and organized by GRSP Zambia. The event drew roughly 40 people from all sectors (transport, business, civil society, health, among others) and covered a wide range of issues, from engineering, emergency response, to education, enforcement and fleet safety initiatives. The ideas from the different sectors together with a mapping exercise to identify dangerous road safety spots will be used to determine the focus of the GRSP effort in Lusaka aimed at developing community solutions to Zambia’s growing road safety problem. The presentations given at the workshop can be found below.
Presentations, Road Safety in Lusaka City and Community Approaches to Road Safety:
- Workshop agenda
- GRSP introduction
- Lusaka City Council
- Lusaka University Teaching Hospital
- Lusaka volunteer ambulance service ERT
- Zambia Red Cross Society
In continuation of the GRSP Zambia programme supported by gTKP, another workshop took place in Lusaka in September 2010. "GRSP Zambia the Way Forward" used the acknowledged risk areas and risk factors identified in the November workshop (above) to agree on the best way forward. The concepts from GRSP Proactive Partnership Manual developed from the GRSP experience in Brazil are being used in setting up the emerging assessment system of the community partnership/city model in Lusaka. The model stresses the importance of local government ownership, good data, focus on risk factors and focus groups (community/driver/schools), and the cooperation across the sectors of enforcement, transport, health and education. Click here to access the GRSP presentation. A medical surgeon presented about the Cost of Trauma Cases for the UTH (largest hospital in Zambia) being a huge burden to the hospital alone, costing millions of KWH and reaffirming the need for urgent action. A seatbelt campaign led by Lusaka City Council in partnership with RTSA and GRSP was launched at the event, as well as a commitment to target local communities. The workshop was mentioned on the national news, TV (ZNBC), on September 1st 2010. 60 key stakeholders were present.
Case studies regarding community road safety can be found here and under the documents tab below.